While the Houston Rockets have been one of the most competitive teams over the past few years, one thing has eluded them: an NBA title. The major roadblock that’s been standing in their way? The Golden State Warriors.
While James Harden & Co. may never admit it, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta seems to have zero problem saying that the Warriors got into their heads.
The recent history between the Rockets and Warriors
For the last five years, the Houston Rockets have been one of the best teams in the Western Conference. Unfortunately for them, the Golden State Warriors are in that same conference. The Dubs have been to the NBA Finals five straight times. Of those five trips, they’ve beaten the Rockets four times on the way.
In 2015, the Rockets were defeated four games to one in the Western Conference Finals. The following year, the result was the same, only this time it came in the first round. After a break in the rivalry in the 2017 playoffs, the Rockets came the closest to knocking off Golden State in the 2018 Western Conference Finals.
2018 was supposed to be the year Houston got over the hump. They led the league with a 65-17 record, James Harden won the MVP, and they had home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. And it still wasn’t enough. Sure, the Chris Paul injury didn’t help matters. But the Warriors always just had too much.
Just a year ago, in the second round of the 2019 playoffs, the Rockets had another chance. With the series tied 2-2, Kevin Durant went down in Game 5 and left the door wide open. Steph Curry slammed it shut as the Warriors won the next two to close out the series.
The Rockets certainly can’t lose to the Warriors in the playoffs this year
With Kevin Durant gone, Klay Thompson on the shelf for the entire season, and Steph Curry out for the majority of the year as well, the Warriors aren’t going to the playoffs this season. It’s almost already mathematically impossible. That leaves the door open for the Houston Rockets.
However, the road won’t be easy. The Rockets are currently sitting in fourth place in the Western Conference behind the Lakers, Nuggets, and Clippers. However, they’re also only 2.5 games up on the seventh-place Mavericks, meaning things could change quite a bit as the end of the season nears. Houston’s owner doesn’t seem to be concerned.
What did the Rockets owner say about the Warriors?
With the Warriors out of it, this may be Houston’s best chance at a championship since their back-to-back titles in the mid-90s. Tilman Fertitta likes his team’s chances in 2020, but that didn’t keep him from admitting to the Austin American-Statesman that he feared the Warriors the past five years.
“None of us fear L.A. (the Lakers) or the Clippers or Denver like we feared Golden State. It’s not like how we were scared of them.
“We could easily win the West this year or get knocked out in the first round. Both L.A. teams, Denver, Houston, we’re all excellent teams. Just comes down to somebody gets hot and makes a shot.
“Our chances are as good as they’ve ever been.”Tilman Fertitta
While the Rockets may not have to deal with a team like the Warriors this season, all the teams Fertitta mentioned could pose a big problem for Houston. The Rockets have gone to a smaller lineup and are counting on so many of those three-point attempts they love so much to go in.
Their style was essentially created to beat a team like Golden State and they couldn’t get that done. That makes them extremely vulnerable against teams like the Lakers and Clippers. Perhaps Fertitta should be a little scared of that.