So here we are, finally at the team who is actually going to win the NBA Finals. I gave 18 fan bases a chance to see what it would have to look like for their team to hoist the championship trophy. For the last 15 years, the city of Houston has been the odd city out in the basketball world. The Dallas Mavericks had Dirk Nowitzki and took down the Big 3 in Miami. The San Antonio Spurs have been awesome, and I don’t think I really need to describe it any further than that. But now, it’s the Rockets time to launch themselves into NBA history.
The Houston Rockets made a big move in the offseason to acquire future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul. It was a a great, and also confounding move. James Harden became the starting point guard under the new Mike D’antoni system, so trading for another top point guard was either going to be incredibly great or blow up in their face. And throughout the entire season, it worked out for some beautiful basketball. They maintained the best record in basketball and had some great wins over the top teams, including a couple of great victories over the Golden State Warriors.
The narrative on the Houston Rockets last season was that they didn’t play defense, and for the most part that was pretty true. The funniest thing about D’antoni’s system of playing at an extremely high pace and shooting as many three pointers as possible, is that he was a defensive minded player back when he played. But he has a deep understanding of how the game has changed and how the best teams in the NBA right now are the ones that put offense first.
But with the acquisition of guys like Chris Paul, Gerald Green, and PJ Tucker, the team’s entire mentality has changed. They have made a living on the defensive end, and have dominated teams on both ends of the floor. They were 5th in the NBA in steals per game and 8th in points per game allowed. And with their dedication to making more three pointers than any other team in the NBA, they also were 7th in opponents three point percentage, continuously forcing teams to take tough shots. Clint Capela was huge for them all season as he led the team in blocks and put his team 10th in the NBA in defensive rebounds per game.
But all of that is only possible because of how great their offense is. They were 1st in the NBA in points per game per 100 possessions. They forced opponents to foul them over 20 times per game leading them to 25 free throws per game. They were 1st in the NBA in offensive rating, thanks to their efficient play. James Harden was the best player in the NBA all season, and even though Lebron James was great as well, there really isn’t a debate who MVP should be.
The first round against the Minnesota Timberwolves was a breeze as they played their game and won the series in 5 games. They currently hold a 3-1 lead over the Utah Jazz, and will close it out in Game 5 at home. They have proved that their style of play that worked all season can translate to the playoffs against top level opponents. They have been on a collision course to face off against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. And with both team up 3-1 in their series, it looks like they will be facing off soon.
The Rockets won the season series against the Warriors 2-1 but unfortunately those games don’t count now. But they do count for the mental gap that they needed to overcome to be able to play the Warriors at their best. The biggest obstacle that teams have faced over the last 4 years against the Warriors has been getting over the fact that they are not as good on paper as them, but this Rockets team is deep and is full of confidence. The Warriors shot the highest three point percentage in the NBA, but they didn’t play the Rockets defense every night. The versatility that the Rockets roster offers will force the Warriors to take tough shots, and although they will make plenty of them, the Rockets will as well.
Kevin Durant and James Harden will have the duty of guarding each other for most of the series, and it will make for great plays on both ends of the floor for these guys. Support players such as Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, and Nene will be huge against the Warriors bench who isn't as good as it once was. Chris Paul will finally do his duty as the defensive captain and will be able to contain Steph Curry. I’m not saying he’ll shut him down, I’m saying he won’t allow him to have any exploding performances. The Rockets will prove that it is their defense that separates them from the Warriors and their homecourt advantage will be huge as they will win Game 7 at home and catapult themselves into the NBA Finals.
Getting past the Golden State Warriors will be more than enough confidence for them on their way to winning the championship. They will face off against Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. It will only be a series because Lebron James will continue to be unbelievable, but the depth of the Rockets will prove to be too much for the Cavaliers. The terrible defensive play from the Cavaliers will only look worse against the high scoring offense of the Rockets.
James Harden will prove to the world why he is deserving of being mentioned as one of the top three players in the world. His Finals MVP performance will be incredible and Adidas will finally have their champion they’ve been so desperately needing. The Houston Rockets will win the NBA Finals in 7 games, and none of this was fabricated. This will be the truth.
James Harden could cook One Minute Rice in 59 seconds…
Just a man trying to make the most of his time on this planet.