It was just last spring that the Houston Rockets pushed the defending Champion Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference Finals. They were up 3-2 in the series and had found a system that could keep up with the fire-power of Golden State.
Over the summer, they were ready to try it again. And, despite their rough start to the 2018/19 campaign, they once again stand as the biggest threat to Golden State's Championship aspirations.
But can the Rockets really beat the Warriors in their next faceoff? That remains to be seen, but their GM Daryl Morey thinks they have a shot.
“As much as we could get injured, so could they. All I know is that we pretty much knew we were gonna have to beat them, so does the order really matter? Probably not. It would have been nice to get homecourt like last year. I think that could be a big factor — last year at Oracle, their fans are great — I do think not having homecourt is a factor. I do think we’re a better team going into the series. Maybe our odds are similar to last year. We do feel very strongly we have a real shot at it.”
Holding homecourt advantage was crucial for the Rockets last season. Although they lost their last two closing games, playing that final game in Houston certainly helped their chances.
It is hard to say how much this Rockets team resembles the one from last year though. Can they stay healthy? Can Clint Capela take advantage of the absence of DeMarcus? Will James Harden continue his shooting streak? It is likely that the Rockets will have to be close to perfect to pull off the upset.
But with the same roster, an inspired franchise, and another chance, Houston may hold the best chance out of anyone to knock off the now two-time defending Champions.