The Houston Rockets have punched their ticket to the Western Conference Finals. The Rockets await the winner of the Golden State Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans second round series. Unless the Pelicans can win three more games, the Rockets will be squaring off with the Warriors as many expected when the NBA playoffs started.
According to Sports Media Watch, the Western Conference Finals are slated to begin Monday, May 15. The NBA has the option of moving either conference finals series up to Saturday, May 13 or Sunday, May 14. As the No. 1 seed, the Rockets will have home court advantage in the series.
Houston took two out of three regular season games against Golden State during the regular season. Most recently, the Rockets won their last matchup on January 20 by eight points. Chris Paul had 33 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in the game. James Harden chipped in 22 points and eight assists. For the Warriors, Kevin Durant had 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists in a losing effort.
This is exactly the series the Rockets had in mind when general manager Darryl Morey traded for Paul last summer. Morey admitted the team is “obsessed” with the Warriors in a December interview with ESPN’s Ryen Russillo.
“It’s the only thing we think about,” Morey told ESPN. “I think I’m not supposed to say that, but we’re basically obsessed with ‘How do we beat the Warriors?’ Last year, the Spurs knocked us off, so we’re very worried about the Spurs. They’re always one step ahead of every organization and guard us better than anyone. But we calculated it — it’s like 90 percent if we’re gonna win a title, we’ve gotta obviously beat the Warriors at some point. So we’re extremely focused on that. A lot of our signings and what we do during the year is based on that.”
Houston got the edge in the regular season, and was able to finish with a better record for home court. What the Warriors have on their side is continuity and playoff experience. The majority of Golden State’s core has played together through multiple big-time playoff series. The Rockets are hoping their backcourt can pose matchup problems for the Warriors. Klay Thompson will likely guard James Harden, but it remains to be seen who will guard Chris Paul. The Warriors could put Durant on Paul, but that would leave Steph Curry to guard P.J. Tucker. The Warriors will likely have Curry match up with Paul.
Source: Heavy Sports