The long-awaited Western Conference heavyweight bout finally is upon us.
The top-seeded Houston Rockets and defending champion Golden State Warriors will square off in the Western Conference finals, with Game 1 of the best-of-seven series taking place Monday night at Toyota Center.
Both teams have looked dominant in the postseason, dropping only two total games in the first two rounds. But something will have to give with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line.
While a team conceivably would like the easiest path possible to the championship round, the Warriors reportedly were hoping to meet the Rockets in the playoffs. According to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, Golden State has a clear mission in its matchup with Houston.
“I know how they feel. They want them just for the simple fact so they can just shut them up,” Haynes said on ESPN, as transcribed by NBC Sports. “That’s it. That’s it. So, it’s not a concern.”
I will say this. A couple months ago, when Rockets beat Golden State last game of the regular season when these two teams faced off, I told – I went to Draymond (Green). I went to KD (Kevin Durant). I said, ‘Look man, Rockets may be able to give you all some problems.’ And they basically cussed me out right there on the spot. Like, ‘Don’t believe in that regular-season hype.’ So, they’re ready for this matchup.”
The Rockets did take two of three games from the Warriors in the regular season, but as Green and Durant touched on, the playoffs are an entirely different animal. Golden State is fresh off one of the most dominant postseason runs in NBA history, and a series win over Houston would send the Dubs to their fourth consecutive Finals appearance.
It’s odd to say the star-studded, highly decorated Warriors are playing with a chip on their shoulder, but given how much hype the Rockets have received this season, Golden State could take its game to another level to prove its point.
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