The Houston Rockets have everyone’s attention.
They’re a fascinating team which was created in a lab somewhere by a collection of excitable basketball nerds.
Space the floor, surround the game’s best slasher with elite shooters, get all your shots at the rim or behind the arc, and attempt to game the math on your opponent.
It’s been a very successful formula so far.
But as much of a talking point as the Rockets are, let’s not allow our collective fascination with Daryl Morey’s wild experiment trick us into thinking they can actually beat the Warriors (when fully healthy) in seven games.
- Golden State will still have two of the three best players in the series and four of the top six.
- The Warriors have a higher defensive ceiling.
- Houston is built to dominate the regular season, but the moment they reached the second round of the playoffs last year, the Spurs beat them up and stole their lunch money.
- The Warriors, meanwhile, are a proven playoff commodity to say the least, complete with the invaluable experience that comes with making three straight trips to The Finals.
- Steph Curry and Kevin Durant made big jumps between the regular season and the playoffs last season, while James Harden – for reasons known only to James Harden – shot 2-11 for 10 points in the Rockets’ do-or-die game six against the Spurs.
- Golden State might not have home court advantage, but their home crowd is lit. Houston’s isn’t.
The only way the Warriors lose their inevitable series against Houston is if at least one of the following scenarios unfolds:
- Draymond Green gets himself suspended for neutering Clint Capela with a trademark nut-kick (but let’s reduce his suspension if he does it with his non-preferred left boot in a nod to the degree of difficulty).
- Curry and/or Durant are still revisiting their injury-riddled pasts as the Western Conference Finals approach (admittedly, both players have recently taken several unwilling trips down memory lane in that sense).
- Houston shoots at an absolutely otherworldly rate from deep across just about the entire series.
TL;DR? The only likely threat to the Warriors is themselves.
And you know who’s acutely aware of that?
The Golden State Warriors!
Warriors just announced they canceled practice today. Everyone in recovery mode after Curry's 30th.
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 13, 2018
It was was just one of many signs that Golden State was practically handing the one-seed to Houston knowing they could win anywhere in the postseason, when rotations are shortened and it’s all about the most talented players on the floor.
And while foaming at the mouth over Houston’s offence is more than understandable, the Warriors still edge the Rockets in net rating, effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage.
That’s despite rolling out the Quinn Cook All-Stars night after night during the dog days of the regular season.
Golden State know they can’t be matched when healthy, and I mean…do Steve Kerr and Mike Brown look like they’re worried?