While many Houston Rockets fans claim their chances of reaching the NBA Finals went down the drain as soon as Chris Paul exited Game 5 with a hamstring injury, Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala argues the series would not have been that heavily contested if it wasn’t for his own injury.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr refuted the initial narrative shortly after the conclusion of the series, claiming Golden State could say the same that was said of Paul of their defensive ace, who suffered a knee injury following a collision with James Harden in Game 3, leaving him out for the last four games of the series.
Iguodala agreed with his coach, but put it rather bluntly.
“It would’ve been short. 4-1,” Iguodala told Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News of the potential outcome if he was healthy for the entire series against the Rockets. “They didn’t win. We won.”
The Warriors had just won a 41-point demolition over the Rockets in Game 3 to go up 2-1 before Houston went on to win two close games — a three-point win in Game 4 and a four-point victory in Game 5 — putting the Warriors’ back against the wall.
During the first three games of the series, Iguodala had limited the team’s top two scorers, Chris Paul and James Harden, to a mere one field in 41 matchups as the primary defender, proving to be a complete nightmare when he drew the assignment on either backcourt star.
Teams like the Rockets have modeled their entire roster in hopes to counter Golden State’s strengths, but Iguodala offers that teams will now have to go through even tougher opponents than last season, somewhat taking off the target from their back as two-time defending champions.
“It’s going to be fun seeing the [Rockets] this year,” said Iguodala. “The West got tougher. I like seeing the West this year. The West is going to be fun. We aren’t the only team, so it’s no longer, ‘We got to get up for the Warriors.’ That’s what’s fun to me. Teams don’t get the other team’s best every single night. This year, it’s not going to be a cakewalk. You can’t just have your best game against us. You have to play on a nightly basis.”
It’s going to be ridiculously competitive in the West this season.