WASHINGTON, United States – Defending NBA champion Golden State, seeking a 3rd title in 4 seasons, faces season wins leader Houston in a tantalizing playoff showdown between a powerhouse Warriors squad and a Rockets team assembled to beat it.
“I like where we are. Our guys have rings. That’s a good position to be in,” said Golden State coach Steve Kerr, whose Warriors open the best-of-7 Western Conference finals at Houston on Monday (Tuesday, May 15 in the Philippines) in search of a 4th straight trip to the NBA Finals.
“We’re going in here knowing we’re the defending champs, knowing we got a couple championships here the last few years. Let’s go get another one. It’s a nice feeling to have to go into a series with.”
The Rockets, sparked by NBA scoring champion James Harden, were 2-1 against Golden State in the regular season and went a league-best 65-17 overall, seizing a home-court advantage in the series.
The clash between the two offensively explosive teams has been anticipated since the start of the season.
“You wanted us. You got us. Now you’ve got to play the game,” said outspoken Golden State forward Draymond Green. “Their team is built to beat us, their obsession.”
Past NBA Most Valuable Players Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry join Green, Andre Iguodala and 3-point sharpshooter Klay Thompson in a starting lineup dubbed “Death” or “The Hamptons Five.”
A rose by any other name is still tough to beat.
“They are taking the challenge and they are embracing it,” Kerr said. “We seem to be at our best when we are threatened. And we’re definitely threatened.”
Curry has made a solid return after missing several weeks with knee and ankle injuries.
“I feel good. I feel confident in what I’m able to do,” Curry said. “I continue to get better, continue to get my timing right, continue to get back to the normal rotations.”
Golden State led the NBA in scoring just ahead of Houston this season. Now the Warriors rank as the top defensive squad in the playoffs just ahead of the Rockets.
“We’re going to be ready,” said Houston’s Swiss big man Clint Capela, who’s enjoyimg a career-best season with 13.9 points and 10.8 rebounds a game. “Everybody is excited about it.” – Rappler.com
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