It’s the rematch many fans were hoping to see in this postseason and now it’s set. The Rockets and Warriors will meet for the fourth time in the last five postseasons, with the Western Conference semifinal series starting on Sunday at Oracle Arena. The Warriors have won each of the previous four.
Last season, their matchup came in the Western Conference finals and the Rockets led the series three games to two before being forced to play the rest of the series without Chris Paul, who injured his hamstring late in the Rockets game five win.
The Rockets come into the series with a lot of confidence after their hard –fought series win over the Jazz in the opening round of the playoffs. Their defense was among the league’s best following the All-Star break and was fantastic in the series against Utah.
Houston held Utah to 40 percent shooting from the floor (best among Western Conference teams in the playoffs) and to just 26.3 percent on three points shots (best in the NBA in the playoffs).
James Harden, the league’s reigning MVP, averaged 28.7 points per game in the seven-game series against the Warriors last season.
After the Warriors closed out the Clippers, Warriors forward Kevin Durant talked about trying to limit Harden.
“He can do everything. If you’re not focused he can drive past you, hit you with the shoulder because he’s strong,” Durant said.
“Finish either hand. He’s hitting floaters now,” Durant added.
“Obviously his step-back three-pointer is one of his staples. He can score in a variety of ways. We have to be locked-in from the beginning. You can’t fully stop a guy like that, you just have to be ready to play him tough all game.”
Golden State was pushed to six games by the Clippers in the opening round and even lost two games at home at Oracle Arena, yet they still have the best offensive rating of any team in the postseason and Durant comes into this series on a brilliant scoring roll.
Durant scored 50 points in the series-clinching win and scored at least 33 points in each of the final four games of the series. He shot 50 percent from the floor or better in all six games and missed just three of his 59 free throw attempts (95.5 %). He’s averaging 35 points per game to lead all scorers in the playoffs.
Houston won three of its four regular season meeting with the Warriors, but there were key players from each team absent for each of those games.
Western Conference semifinals (times CT)
- Game 1: Sunday at Golden State, 2:30 p.m.
- Game 2: Tuesday at Golden State, 9:30 p.m.
- Game 3: Saturday at Houston, 7:30 p.m.
- Game 4: Monday at Houston, 8:30 p.m.
- *Game 5: Wednesday at Golden State, TBD
- *Game 6: Friday at Houston, TBD
- *Game 7: Sunday at Golden State, TBD
- * - if necessary