With the two best teams in the Western Conference – and perhaps the entire league – dispatching their respective opponents in five games Tuesday night, the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors will finally duke it out.
The defending NBA champions and the upstart Southeast Texas club have been on a collision course as early as December, as they hotly contested the number one seed – with Houston eventually coming out on top as injuries piled up on the Warriors.
And with the stage set, the Western Conference Finals schedule has already been released.
Full West Finals schedule via the NBA pic.twitter.com/Y3kLJEnUNI
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) May 9, 2018
After transitioning from the Tracy McGrady/Yao Ming era to new franchise player James Harden, the Rockets quickly erased years of playoff drought and made it to the postseason in the 2012-13 season only to succumb to two straight first round exits. They reached the West Finals in 2014-15 (at the expense of Chris Paul’s L.A. Clippers – which partly formed his reputation for an inability to advance past the semifinals) but losing to the Warriors. They later lost again to the Warriors the following year as early as the first round.
This year, both teams have a different look from those early days – the Warriors now have a top three caliber player in Kevin Durant (replacing forward Harrison Barnes) and an even deeper bench while the Rockets have Paul who remains an excellent two-way threat at the point and with the much-improved Clint Capela at center anchoring one of the league’s best defense.
The Warriors also lost the season series 2-1 with all three games being high-scoring affairs in the hundreds, but executed in abjectly different styles although anchored by the long ball.
Fasten your seatbelts, this is going to be one exciting series.