Blogtable: Rockets' chances of beating Warriors in these playoffs?
Each week, we ask our scribes to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.
From NBA.com Staff
* * *
Do the Rockets have a better chance, same chance, or no chance to beat the Warriors this year?
* * *
Tas Melas: Better chance. Meeting a round earlier benefits the Rockets’ best player because James Harden’s performance declines as he gets deeper in to the playoffs. The Warriors just lost consecutive home games for the first time since the Cavs in 2016 (the 3-1 horror show) which means home court doesn’t mean all that much. These Warriors don’t look as on point as their last two championship teams. The Rockets are better rested, Steph turned his ankle Friday, and so did Klay. Still, they’re the favorite.
Shaun Powell: Same chance. Unless you strongly believe Trevor Ariza would’ve made a big difference in this series, this is virtually the same core the Rockets offered up last season when they took the Warriors to the limit. It’s all about James Harden and Kevin Durant, and how efficient they can be. One advantage is Harden is seeing the Warriors much earlier this time, meaning he’s fresh compared to last spring.
John Schuhmann: It’s about the same, which means that they have a decent chance. Two factors in the Rockets’ favor … 1. The Warriors look more vulnerable going into the series, having been unable to flip the switch defensively as well as they did last year. 2. James Harden has become an even better scorer over the last 12 months. Two points in the Warriors’ favor … 1. Not having Trevor Ariza makes it a little more difficult for the Rockets’ defense to switch as effectively as it did last year. 2. The champs have home-court advantage this time.
Sekou Smith: The Rockets have a better chance this time around for a couple of reasons. The Warriors are even more vulnerable now than they were when the Rockets had them down 3-2 in the Western Conference finals last spring. And the Rockets, given their experience dealing with the Warriors in that setting, are better equipped to handle the challenge now. That doesn’t mean I’m picking the Rockets to knock off the two-time reigning champs, not as long as the Warriors have home court advantage and a dialed in Kevin Durant on their side. But the opportunity is knocking for the Rockets (or perhaps someone else, say from the Eastern Conference) to end the Warriors’ current run. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson could both be dealing with lingering ankle issues in the conference semifinals and the Rockets have gotten a few extra days of rest. If ever they are going to do it, the time is now.
Steve Aschburner: Better chance. Now, let’s not get it twisted, I’m not saying it’s going to happen. But I’ve been saying for months that it might be 2-3 teams, rather than one, that knocks off the defending champs in a cumulative effort, and Houston just got more help than expected from the Clippers. It also has to have benefited from its experience against the Warriors in last year’s playoffs. And Chris Paul is – for the moment, anyway – healthy. Golden State has not consistently looked like its former dominant self and get minimal time between rounds. Look, I don’t think the Rockets are as good this spring as they were a year ago, but neither are the Warriors. So if Houston can avoid more 7-of-44 nonsense, they might flip the outcome. Might.
* * *