basketball

Rockets vs. Warriors: Explica breaks down what to expect

The Western Conference Finals between the reigning champion Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets is widely being viewed at the de facto 2018 NBA Finals.


Kahron Spearman


Finally, we've arrived at the NBA Finals the Western Conference finals, between the Houston Rockets and the reigning champion Golden State Warriors.

 

The matchup was close during the regular season. Rockets took the first meeting on opening night, 122-121, then came a 124-114 Warriors win in January, and finally concluded their season series with a 116-108 Rockets win two weeks later.

 

While the games were competitive, there's a known difference between the regular and post-seasons the latter which have been bugaboos for James Harden and Chris Paul so far.

They have made it known that their team is built to beat us. Their obsession, or whatever you want to call it -- obviously you want to build your team to beat the defending champs because that's usually the way you've got to go to get a championship. That stuff has been said for about a year now. It's time to play.

Draymond Green
F/C, Golden State Warriors

After being eliminated by the Warriors in 2015 and 2016, general manager Daryl Morey became "obsessed" with creating a Rockets team that could beat Golden State. The development of center Clint Capela and the signing of Chris Paul have boosted the team exponentially, regarding relative options on both ends of the floor.

 

The 2018 Houston Rockets, on paper, are the best team that the Warriors have faced they've won more games (65 wins), sport a better point differential (8.5) and higher offensive efficiency rating (115.5) than any Warriors playoff opponent since Steve Kerr has become the head coach. 

 

Has Morey created the monster-slayer?

In a word, "no." In two words, "absolutely not." 

 

The Rockets are going to have a considerable issue on two fronts. For one, the Warriors have numerous options to put onto Harden, including Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Andre Iguodala. Capela is going to match up favorably with any big the Warriors start, short of Draymond Green, but he's not a player with options in the post.

 

Chris Paul would have to change the nature of his matchup with Stephen Curry, who's historically put the Rockets guard in a Vitamix blender.

 

Lastly, the Rocket's one-on-one offense with Harden and Paul interchanging as the lead isn't going to challenge the Warriors' defense with enough consistency over a seven-game stretch.

 

PICK: Warriors in five games.

SOU  RCES