- While the Rockets are admittedly obsessed with beating the Warriors, Golden State's vocal leader says the team is only focused on championships, not budding rivalries.
According to Draymond Green, Houston’s so–called “obsession” with Golden State is a one–sided affair.
The Warriors and Rockets are finally set to square off in the West finals after months of chatter and trash talk between the conference’s top two teams. Back in October, Green wondered aloud about Houston’s commitment to defense. Following a January win over the Warriors, Rockets center Clint Capela said, “We are better than them.”
After spending the summer acquiring Chris Paul, P.J. Tucker and other pieces to increase the Rockets’ ability to match-up with the Warriors, Houston GM Daryl Morey admitted in a radio interview back in December that Golden State is “the only thing we think about.” The longtime executive went on to add, “I think I’m not supposed to say that, but we’re basically obsessed with, ‘How do we beat the Warriors?’”
Both teams enter the conference finals match-up sporting identical 8–2 playoff records, but Green insisted that the Warriors did not share the Rockets’ single-minded focus on the budding rivalry.
“Man, we won two championships in three years, we’re not about to run off and talk about how bad we want to play somebody,” Green said. “We want to win another championship and it doesn’t matter who’s in the way of that. If you’re in the way, then you happen to be in the way.
“We’ve got a goal. Whoever is in the way of that goal, then we’ve got to see you and you’ve got to see us…. We haven’t been running around like, ‘We want them bad.’ No, we want a championship bad. Another one. That’s the truth.”
Houston will enter the West finals with home-court advantage after posting a league-best 65 wins during the regular season. Game 1 is set for Monday at the Toyota Center, marking the first time the two teams have faced since Jan. 20 in Oakland. The Rockets won that contest 116-108 to claim a 2-1 edge in the season series. Following that game, Capela told reporters that the Rockets “have the weapons to beat [the Warriors]” and said that the victory was important “for our swag.”
Green and teammate Stephen Curry dismissed those remarks on Tuesday.
“What’d he say? Gotta play the game now,” said Green. “That’s all fine and dandy in January. They’ve got us and we’ve got them. Gotta go out and play. We’ll see who’s better.”
Historically, the Warriors under coach Steve Kerr have handled the Rockets with relative ease. Since 2014-15, Golden State is 11–3 against Houston in the regular season and 8–2 in the playoffs. The Warriors eliminated the Rockets in the 2015 first round and the 2016 West finals, both in five games. Meanwhile, the Warriors won the title in both 2015 and 2017, while the Rockets are seeking their first NBA Finals appearance and championship since 1995.
Morey posted an animation of two larger-than-life robots duking it out to his Twitter account on Tuesday night, a not-so-subtle nod to the upcoming series.
This year certainly appears to be Houston’s best shot yet to defeat Golden State: The Rockets set a franchise-record for wins, while ranking first in point differential in both the regular season and playoffs. Remarkably, Houston has won more games (65), compiled a larger point differential (+8.5), and posted a higher offensive efficiency rating (115.5) than any of Golden State’s previous playoff opponents since Kerr’s arrival in 2014-15.
“They have made it known that their team is built to beat us,” Green said. “Their ‘obsession’ or whatever you want to call it, it is what it is. All that stuff is cool. You obviously want to build [a team] to beat the defending champs. That’s usually how you have to go to get a championship. All understandable. That stuff has been said for about a year now. It’s time to play.”