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Seed Houston hosts Warriors to start conference finals

15 May 2018

Instead of the NBA Finals, it's the western conference final that has most real NBA fans intrigued. "I think we showed all season we match up well with them".

Recently, though, a friend of mine who reliably has the best National Basketball Association takes pointed out that, in constantly harking back to 2015-16, I was assuming that the Warriors ever could reasonably reach those heights again, with or without Durant.

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball during the game against the Golden State Warriors on January 20, 2018 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

Defending the Warriors presents a multitude of challenges, starting with Durant.

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The Warriors won 11 of 12 against Paul's Clippers in three seasons after Kerr took over for Mark Jackson in 2014, perhaps playing a role in Paul choosing Houston over returning to LA last summer, creating another juggernaut instead of staying with the retread. He was obviously a teammate of mine for three years, and I know what he's capable of doing, but they got guys that's damn good no matter if they are young or not.

Paul and Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni are also looking for their first NBA Finals berth. A combination of existing pieces and guys brought via trade or free agency has turned the Rockets into a legit contender. They have three stellar defenders on the wing in Trevor Ariza, Luc Mbah a Moute, and P.J. Tucker.

The guards for both of these teams have proven that that can play. They're an uninspiring fact of the league, the yardstick by which every other team is judged. Last but certainly not least is the trade that acquired a superb point guard in Chris Paul.

Harden, meanwhile, was next to Durant on the Oklahoma City Thunder the last time he reached the NBA Finals, and is eager to overcome his own playoff shortcomings.

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"This might be a series where you lose one or two and then win four in a row - either side". Steph Curry has also been getting in done for Golden State, coming up with 24.5 points per game. Understandable. That stuff has been said for about a year now.

The game plan offensively and defensively against the 76ers was beyond impressive.

"I get it with the Kyrie thing". James all-around game and clutch buzzer-beating moments have been breathtaking. Golden State had a 14.9 net rating whenever Curry was on the court, and the team played at an incredibly fast pace, perhaps a good sign for Curry's ability to run up and down the floor before a matchup with Houston. The Rockets countered with an effective field goal percentage (56.0) above their season average (55.1) against a team rife with stellar individual defenders, meaning Houston will continue to do what comes so efficiently. The two-time MVP looked like his old self when he got back on the court in Game 2 of the second round, scoring 28 points in 27 minutes. Boston attacked and scored 60 points in the paint Game 1, added 17 points off 10 Cavaliers turnovers, and in the end put up 108 points without much effort on Sunday afternoon.

Curry admitted that being able to compete with a player like the nine-time All-Star gave him the belief that he could succeed in the league and he's done a lot more than that.

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Seed Houston hosts Warriors to start conference finals