The Houston Rockets are set to enter their first trip to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2015 where they will have the challenge of facing the defending champion Golden State Warriors in a much-anticipated series.
Houston heads into the matchup holding homecourt advantage as the top overall seed in the conference along with winning two out of three regular-season meetings against Golden State. Despite all of that, head coach Mike D'Antoni voiced prior to Game 1 on Monday night that his team is the underdog in the series, according to Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicles.
Mike D'Antoni: "Obviously, we're the underdog. … When you go against the champs, you've got to knock them out."
— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) May 14, 2018
The Rockets have more than held up their fair end of being the No.1 seed in the playoffs holding an 8-2 record heading into the Western Conference Finals. The team is also hitting all cylinders offensively currently outscoring their opponents by 13.8 points per game on just made 3-pointers alone while averaging 109.5 points per contest.
Their star backcourt has led the charge offensively with likely league MVP James Harden playing at an elite level averaging 28.5 points with 7.4 assists, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per contest. All-Star point guard Chris Paul is averaging 21.8 points on 48.5 percent shooting from the field with 6.5 assists, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.1 steals per game. This includes dropping a playoff career-high 41 points behind eight 3-pointers in the series-clinching Game 5 win over the Utah Jazz.
Houston has their team hitting stride at the right time, but the Warriors have played equally as impressive or better with their level of play cruising by both of their first two opponents while getting the return of Stephen Curry. There is now a renewed offensive fluidity that has even seen Draymond Green step up his game averaging a near triple-double in the playoffs with 13.1 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 9.0 assists. Regardless of who the favorite is in this series, it should quickly become wildly entertaining with two of the league's best offenses battling it out for a spot in the NBA Finals.