The defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors and the truly exciting Houston Rockets are hoping to battle it out in the Western Conference finals. Can the Rockets really knock off the defending champions?
I don’t think so but I surely would like to watch them try. This is a matchup that has garnered much media speculation and the Rockets have defeated the Warriors both times they have played this season.
The Rockets win streak has now reached 17 games and they continue to have the best record in the league.
And the Rockets are streaking after making a major change in their offense, going from quick ball movement to an isolation system. According to Second Spectrum, the Rockets are averaging 1.11 points per direct isolation, which just so happens to be the best in the NBA.
The Warriors are the second best team in the NBA right behind the Rockets. They were under a little fire for not playing that well before the All Star break and needing extra motivation to go out and play to their full potential.
The Warriors are 5-0 since the All Star break and have reached the 50-win mark for the fifth straight season. Prior to this stretch, Golden State had only four 50-win seasons in franchise history.
Many fans and media people believe the Rockets will knock off the Warriors if and when they meet in the Western Conference finals. I don’t think the Rockets will beat the Warriors.
Yes, they beat them twice this season already, but last season we saw the Warriors turn it up a notch in the playoffs and sweep their way through the entire Western Conference before defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games in the NBA Finals.
What people must realize is the Warriors have another level and they jump straight to that level when it is time for the playoffs. The Rockets are nowhere near the defensive team the Warriors are.
They definitely play more defense now than they did in the past, but they do not have a five-man defensive lineup they can put out on the floor that will be able to stop Golden State.
The Rockets are 32-1 when everyone is healthy, but things do change when it is playoff time. Will their isolations style of play be enough to beat the Golden State Warriors? No. The Warriors can present lineup nightmares for the Rockets and the Rockets don’t have anyone who can truly guard Kevin Durant.
Who is going to slow down Stephen Curry and his three–pointers when his range is the entire basketball floor? Not James Harden, because we all know he does not play defense. Maybe Chris Paul can do it since he is a better defender, but he is an older player and will he be able to run behind Curry the entire series and still be highly effective on the offensive side for the Rockets? No.
Many people are rooting for the Rockets because they are tired of the Warriors dominating the Western Conference on their way to the finals. I do expect to Rocket and Warriors series to be highly competitive and very entertaining, but do we really believe the Rockets can beat the Warriors four out of seven times to win the series? No.
Stephen Curry has knocked down his 200th three pointer of the season and is now the first player in NBA history to hit at least 200 threes in six different seasons. No one on the Rockets can slow him down, especially when you add Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and the shooters they have off the bench.
We’ve seen teams have success against the Warriors and then collapse in the playoffs. I do not think Houston will collapse, but their one on one ability ultimately will not work against the Warriors.
Shaquita Newton is a sports blogger. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.