These five keys will decide if they stay on top of the West, or if a new NBA Finals team emerges for the first time since 2015. But no one thought it would be under these circumstances.
And like the Warriors, the Rockets have played tenacious team defense in these playoffs. When I'm out there, missing six weeks, I'm just appreciative of being out there playing.
LeBron James and Stephen Curry are coming his way.
He warned on Thursday that if the Warriors only go in thinking about a split in Houston, they'll have a problem. The Celtics have pulled off a miracle to make it this far. All of a sudden, the help that was criticized in round one looks like more than enough to get the job done.
"Both teams are going to try to force their will", Iguodala told reporters. The Rockets sometimes play loosey-goosey with the ball and that could cost them. "There's going to be a lot of adjustments after every game". However, this Celtics team is not the Raptors team that the Cavaliers swept last round.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) has its Final Four.
So now it gets real.
Instead, the Warriors coach is confident his team have the advantage of knowing exactly what it takes to win a championship.
Head coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors looks on and reacts to the play on the court against the San Antonio Spurs in the first quarter during Game One of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoff at ORACLE Arena on April 14, 2018 in Oakland. And he made a bunch of them against the Warriors. While Harden and Chris Paul deservedly get the lion's share of the credit it could be the emergence of Clint Capela that gives Houston any chance.
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"It takes away the pick and roll..."
Eric Gordon is the best player off the bench for the Rockets. These are exciting times for all of them, but not an easy ones. When the Warriors are clicking on all cylinders, it's like a constant avalanche. "Oh, I'm definitely about to get some rest".
Kerr's spot on, though, there is a different level of confidence that has to come along with already having won titles.
"They are taking the challenge and they're embracing it", Kerr said of his team. Fans will be tuning in on Monday to see if they can do just that. That was against Minnesota during that 40 point quarter. All right now, they're in the way. The Rockets have the ability to withstand high scoring games from Kevin Durant and Curry, but they must not allow a third scorer like Thompson to get hot.
The Jazz struggled from the 3-point line in the first two periods as Houston turned up the defensive intensity. Although the defending champions are considered a finesse team, they regularly outrebound their opponent and often have the edge in turnover margin. In response to this injury, New Orleans traded for sharpshooter Nikola Mirotic from the Chicago Bulls to strengthen their frontcourt and shooting. This held true in glimmers, but the Warriors booked the Pelicans a ticket to the offseason and won in 5 games.
The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas opened the Warriors as -185 favorites to win the best-of-seven series against Houston. Which means no easy buckets and crashing the boards on a consistent basis.
To be sure, Warriors-Rockets is the most intriguing possible matchup.
Don't expect them to be the first to fold. They've been to The Finals three straight years. If that stays the same, the Rockets won't be able to guard them. "It's a nice feeling to have." he concluded. If he is unable to play well, then the Rockets will be favored to win.