Warriors will fall to the pressure of Harden and Co.
May 10, 2018
After an MVP-caliber season, Rockets guard James Harden deserves a ring. And given how well Houston has played in the playoffs, this could be his year.
On Monday night, the local favorite Golden State Warriors will travel to Texas to take on Harden and the Rockets, beginning the most anticipated series of these playoffs.
The Warriors are fighting to reclaim the NBA Championship, which they won last year and two of the last three seasons.
Meanwhile, the Rockets have been gearing up all year and specifically designing their team in preparation for this series against the Dubs.
My prediction: Rockets in 7.
Houston’s hero, James Harden, left Oklahoma City in 2012 to pursue his dreams of becoming the superstar of the Houston Rockets.
Six years later, he is exactly that—having led his team to the playoffs every year since he arrived. With this season’s new acquisitions of Chris Paul, PJ Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute, Houston has finally built the team to dethrone the Warriors.
The Rockets finished the 2017-2018 regular season 65-17, ranking first in the Western Conference with the best record in the league.
Harden led the league with 30.4 PPG and dominated passing with 8.8 APG. The key factor to Houston’s success will come through a strong reliance on Harden and his ability to get to the basket and free throw line.
Rockets starting center, 23-year-old Clint Capela, finally blossomed this season into a monster rebounder and a great paint defender. His defense and size should win the paint battle, a major advantage for the one seed.
Paul was on fire in the Western Conference Semifinals closing his final game in the series with 41 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.
If he continues the success he has shown thus far, it will be almost impossible to stop the Harden-Paul duo. So many signs point to a championship in the Rockets future, and even Harden said on Tuesday, “This is the year. For sure.”
Prior to the Western Conference finals, The Rockets beat Golden State two out of the three times the teams met this year. The Warriors finished their regular season 58-24, seven games behind the Rockets but still comfortably sitting in second place for the playoffs.
Previous meetings in the playoffs have resulted in the Warriors eliminating the Rockets in two out of the past three seasons, so this year will be no easy task.
The iconic power four (Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green) will once again attempt to dazzle the arena every night with their endless three-pointers and quick transitional offense.
The battle between the notable defense of Tucker, Mbah a Moute, and Capela and the lights out offense of Curry, Durant, and Thompson is sure to be the greatest factor between how each game will play out.
The Warriors will have a few games of domination from the three point line, but overall the Rockets defense will deter the best offense in the NBA.
If the Rockets are able to overcome the dynasty that has dominated the Western Conference for the past four years, they still must face an even bigger threat in the finals: LeBron James. While the Eastern Conference Finals between the Celtics and the Cavaliers will be an equally thrilling series, I believe the true upset will occur in the West.
Harden and his Rockets have been talking all year about how their team was built to beat the Warriors. Let’s see if they can do so when it counts.
Contact Wylie Lowe at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.