Our NBA Finals 2018 predictions start in the west where in an exclusive interview with ESPN recently, when asked about his expectations for the Rockets this season, James Harden replied ” This is the year. For Sure “. The Rockets, who sit at the top as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, ahead of the defending champions ‘Golden State Warriors’, are on a 14 game win-streak currently and have already defeated the Warriors twice this season. So, is Harden right, ‘this is the year for sure’ ? In my opinion, NO. But is this their best chance so far ? I absolutely think so !
The Rockets have made the playoffs every year since Harden joined the team in 2012, but their best shot at the championship yet was reaching the Western Conference playoffs in 2015, only to lose against the Warriors. With Chris Paul joining the Rockets this year, the team has been terrific throughout the season following the phenomenal chemistry between him and Harden. But well, is this team Warriors ready ?
One of the reasons the Warriors always have a upper hand on the Rockets or any other team for that matter is because of the talent this team is loaded with. Although the Rockets are at the top of the standings currently, the team looks tired and exhausted compared to the Warriors and this is because of all the extra work Paul and Harden have been putting through owing to the lack of help they have been receiving. There’s no doubt that Clint Capela and Trevor Ariza have been doing well this year and have contributed significantly to the team but they simply don’t provide the help as the 3rd and 4th man as Klay Thompson and Draymond Green do for the Warriors. Plus, having arguably the best bench in the league, is just the icing on the cake for the Warriors.
So, to reach the conference finals this year or the finals, if we stretch the line a little, the Rockets are solely dependent on Harden and Paul. So, it goes without saying that if either of them ends up getting injured before the playoffs or during the playoffs, the franchise’s dream for the championship title this year might come to an end. On the other hand, the Warriors were a 73 win team even before KD joined them. So, even though the team might have to overcome certain barricades, the Warriors journey to the title definitely won’t end with a single player out.
There’s no doubt that the Rockets are the closest team to beating the Warriors this season, and maybe just maybe they could stretch the conference finals to a 7th game, but whether or not they eventually beat the Warriors to reach the finals this year, remains to be seen.