Reigning NBA champs face season's best in Western final

Kevin Durant and James Harden

The past six months have been a prelude for the next two weeks.

The Rockets are prepared for whichever lineup the Warriors elect to start in Game 1.

The Rockets and Warriors have both cruised through the playoffs at a rapid rate, knocking off their opponents in decisive fashion.

A narrative has emerged that Houston are also the hungrier team, with Harden and Paul having yet to win a title while several of the Warriors' key players have two to their name. With four of the best 15 or so players in the league, not to mention a roster full of experienced postseason performers, the Warriors spent the first 82 games acting like they knew they could turn it on - and then did precisely that in five-game series wins over the San Antonio Spurs and Pelicans. At the close of last year's Finals, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey was famously quoted as saying he'd have to "up his risk profile" if his team was to compete with Golden State. The NBA's two best teams will have a chance to duke it out finally to figure out who will represent the West in the NBA Finals. And it begins Monday night in Houston. "We know they are ready, and we'll be ready for them".

D'Antoni was asked if he thinks the Warriors have seen a team as talented and risky as the Rockets are this season.

Defending NBA champion Golden State, seeking a third title in four seasons, faces season wins leader Houston in a tantalizing playoff showdown between a powerhouse Warriors squad and a Rockets team assembled to beat it.

Golden State led the National Basketball Association in scoring just ahead of Houston this season. "We're going to go in here knowing we're the defending champs, knowing we got a couple of championships here the last few years".

"Or they can start big and keep a guy back - we just came off Utah and that's what they did". "We seem to be at our best when we are threatened".

"You wanted us. You got us", said outspoken Golden State forward Draymond Green.

"That's all fine and dandy in January". "And we haven't shown that yet and that's the doubt in most people's minds, until you show it they don't we've just got to beat them and show them we can do it". We got them. Got to go out and play. "It's a nice feeling to have and to go into a series with". They downed the Rockets 4-1 in 2015 in Houston's previous trip to the conference finals and ousted the team from the playoffs in the first round in 2016. Now, with added firepower in veteran Chris Paul, the Rockets have went from being "one piece away", to being the favorite to take down the Golden State Warriors and become a brand new representation in the Western Conference.

There's a reason it has been billed as the de facto NBA Finals since these teams met for a third time in January.

"I hope not", he said. "We don't have to run around talking about how bad we want to play somebody". "We want to win another championship and it don't matter who is in the way of that". "They're the ones always winning and getting home-court advantage so hopefully we gained a little ground". We showed all season we match up well with them.

It's all we've been asking for.



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