The Houston Rockets have the best record in the league. They have what is more than likely the league's Most Valuable Player for the season. They won the season series against the Golden State Warriors. But to Rockets guard James Harden, people are still counting out his team this early — which he finds confusing.
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) May 13, 2018
The conversation originated from Clint Capela being counted out, which partly forms the reason why most analysts (and fans) find the 65-win team overmatched. In addition to the obvious one — that the Bay Area franchise is the defending champion, that is.
The Warriors are the progenitors of a small line-up that doesn't quite play small. Unlike the norm, they have a regular-sized backcourt and small forward in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Andre Iguodala. In the frontcourt is where it gets a little tricky — is the 6-foot-10 Kevin Durant the center or the 6-foot-7 but lengthy and burly Draymond Green? Either way, Green's literal ability to defend all five positions and all-around skills on offense make them a matchup nightmare for all teams. Hence, why that group is labeled the “Death Line-up” — they have simply killed teams that play both big or small.
While the Swiss-born center is having a phenomenal fourth season averaging a double-double and an even better playoffs run with 14.4 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game (including a whopping 3.6 swats against the Utah Jazz), there are legitimate concerns about his ability to consistently defend in space. There is also the issue of his offense being exclusively lobs and the occasional two or three dribbles, but with the Warriors' luxury of switching picks due to their versatility, the 23-year-old may not find it easy to dive or cut for those points as he did during the previous series.
But Capela is certainly the X-factor in the series, and how the Warriors decide to play him and how he responds will determine how the series goes.