Golden State Warriors
Season series: 2-1 Houston Rockets
The defending champs are arguably one of the greatest teams of all-time on paper, but they’re also ailing. Kevin Durant is working back from a rib injury. Klay Thompson is dealing with a fractured thumb. Steph Curry is at risk of missing the first round of the playoffs with a Grade 2 MCL sprain. The Rockets probably would have wrapped up the one seed regardless, but not too long ago the thought of anyone dethroning Golden State at the top was laughable.
This is no longer the case.
The Rockets won their season series with the Warriors, which obviously isn’t bad. But, it’s not all that great either. They won the tiebreaker by, literally, a tenth of a second. Also, regular season outcomes have little bearing on a potential collision course in the Western Conference Finals.
The best part about it is that Game 1 would be in the Toyota Center. Which, would be the first of it’s kind, featuring the Warriors outside the Bay Area in over four years. That in itself is an accomplishment for the Rockets.
Golden State’s dynasty put to the test versus a potential 65-win Rockets team would be one of the most contextually significant matchups outside of a Finals in modern NBA history.
Think about all that Houston has done this season:
More from House of Houston
- Are you the 2021 FanSided Sports Fan of the Year?
- Houston Texans: 4 reasons Romeo Crennel is right coach right now
- Astros-Twins Wild Card Series: 5 things to know as MLB postseason begins
- Houston Texans: The Most Underrated Sports Drought Ever
- Houston Texans: J.J. Watt’s early case for NFL Hall of Fame
- Shattering the franchise record of wins and surpassing 60 for the first time ever
- Running away with the one seed/best record in the NBA
- Beating Golden State head-to-head two out of three with Harden’s absence in the sole loss
Yet, after all of that, the Warriors may still become the favorites in late May. Maybe, deservedly so. They have the championship pedigree and more overall talent. The Rockets have more depth, but this is less significant in playoff basketball. However, the Rockets winning shouldn’t shock anyone.
Houston is purposefully designed to take down the Warriors. They’ve been saying it all along. They can play the run-and-gun game, or the grind-it-out game. They have the shooting to keep up on the scoreboard and the versatility to slow the Warriors down defensively. Plus, the necessary star power needed to go deep into the playoffs.
As of this moment in time, considering Golden State’s current injuries, it’s a coin toss. Toyota Center isn’t the most dreaded homecourt advantage, but it’s still a lot better than playing in Oracle.
It could come down to who these teams play in the earlier rounds. Who gets tested more severely, and who takes care of business? As inevitable as this series seems, there’s a chance it doesn’t happen at all! Curry could not come back. Paul may re-aggravate his hamstring. A number of other possibilities could lead to a Portland or OKC sneaking by.
All the teams on this list are formidable. They’re in the playoffs for a reason. Most, if nto all, have super star talent, good defenses, and good offenses. The Houston Rockets simply have more super star talent, better depth, better offense, and a versatile defense.
Ultimately, the Warriors are the only one true team that Houston could lose to and the season would not be a disappointment. They are the last team anyone wants to see standing between them and the Larry O’Brien trophy. Yet, ironically, it seems that the Rockets want to see Golden State the most, to satisfy their obsession of beating them. Ric Flair would be proud.