No.4 Houston Rockets vs. No.1 Golden State Warriors
For a series that is between two titans and two teams that are both so good and could both easily win the series, the key to it all is quite simple.
If the Warriors try, it shouldn’t go more than six games.
If they don’t try, anything is possible.
In years past, the Warriors malaise through the first two rounds of the playoffs didn’t matter. We never batted an eye. That’s because there was no one who ever presented a serious challenge. There was no one who we ever thought would actually beat them.
This year, there’s two and maybe three teams where that’s the case. And this year, the Warriors got the number one threat early.
That could be a good thing. It makes the rest of the path to a three-peat easier.
But it could also be a bad thing. The Warriors right now are like when someone wakes you up abruptly at an ungodly hour in the morning and tells you that you have calculus homework to do (Could that have been me last weekend? Maybe…). Instead of actually focusing on the task you have to do, you spend time thinking about why you have to be doing that task right now. You’re complaining, tired and not ready to do the task in the moment.
That’s the Warriors right now. They’re asleep. They didn’t care about the Clippers series. And now they have to face a calc exam when they’re not ready (Is that me this upcoming week? Maybe…).
A calc exam is a pretty good comparison for the Rockets, not only because are they an extremely difficult opponent, but because this whole thing really does come down to math.
When the Warriors are trying and shooting well, Houston is the only team in the NBA who stands a chance. They have the system and the shooters to keep up. And they have one of the two most unstoppable forces in the league, no matter who is guarding him.
Given the series we just witnessed, and our test analogy, the number of games this Warriors team shouldn’t try in is two. They’re slow, sleepy and not warmed up yet. Their brains aren’t ready for it yet. Just one screw up is impossible to ask of.
So that’s two games for Houston without them really doing anything positive. Houston could shoot horrifically and still win thanks to a James Harden bailout performance.
And then there is two games where Houston will actually beat Golden State, beat them because Houston is a really, really freaking good team. Not because they got lucky.
Those two games are these: The James Harden, “It doesn’t matter if Klay Thompson can do some things to make me work, you’re not stopping me tonight” game and the game where Golden State does try but Houston hits that many more threes, because they’re the Rockets and they’re capable of that. That’s the Harden hits nine, Eric Gordon hits eight, Austin Rivers hits four and Daniel House Jr. hits three game.
And just like that, we’re at four Houston Rockets wins.
Doesn’t feel right, but makes logical sense.
So yeah, this series does come down to the Warriors trying or not. It’s really that simple. Can the brains go into overdrive and power through when they aren’t ready?
I’ve had Golden State and Toronto in the Finals all season. Nothing had changed all season. Nothing had changed when the playoffs started.
It’s time for that to change (I really can’t believe this is happening). I don’t trust the Warriors to give the effort they have to. The malaise this year and especially lately has been different. Couple that with Klay Thompson’s impending status in Game 1, which would be an incredible detriment to the Warriors defensive ploy, and Houston should win this series. If Klay is out today, the Rockets should easily win. That’s five Houston wins based on the formula we used above. You need four to win a series.
Prediction: Houston in 7