The Houston Rockets emerged as the biggest threat to the Golden State Warriors’ throne in the 2017-18 NBA season. After finishing the regular season with the best record, the Rockets reached the Western Conference Finals and forced a Game 7 against the Warriors. If Chris Paul didn’t suffer an injury, most people believed that the Rockets would have stopped the Warriors from creating a dynasty and be the one who defeated LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals 2018.
However, during the Western Conference Finals matchup between the Rockets and the Warriors, Golden State was also missing a key player, Andre Iguodala. Iguodala said that the Rockets wouldn’t have won a single game against the Warriors if he wasn’t on the sideline. Iguodala’s words are still fresh on Chris Paul’s head so when they recently defeated the Warriors, the veteran point guard grabbed the opportunity to slam the former Finals MVP for underestimating the Rockets, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
“What did [Andre Iguodala] say about the series last year? If he would have played, they would have swept us? Then he must be the X-factor,” Paul said. “That’s the punchline you needed, right?”
It’s worth noting that in their recent 118-112 victory at the Oracle Arena, the Rockets were playing without their best player, James Harden, who is dealing with a neck injury, while the Warriors have all their starters – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and DeMarcus Cousins – healthy. Chris Paul led the Rockets with 23 points, 17 assists, five rebounds, and two steals, while Eric Gordon added 25 points. Rockets’ frontcourt starters – Clint Capela, Kenneth Faried, and P.J. Tucker – combined for 46 points and 35 rebounds.
Rockets' Chris Paul moves up in all-time assist list https://t.co/t3jdmOxG9j— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) February 24, 2019
Like Chris Paul, P.J. Tucker admitted that the memories of the Western Conference Finals 2018 are still fresh on his mind. As of now, Tucker said that their goal is to finish the regular season strong before thinking about the NBA Playoffs 2019.
“That was tough,” Tucker said. “It was tough and early on, I had to get away from the game for a minute. To be that close, to be in that situation, up 3-2, that was tough, man. To lose that way with that feeling going into Game 6, man. I don’t even like talking about it now. It’s still a little difficult to digest.”
After struggling earlier in the 2018-19 NBA season, the Rockets have managed to bounce back and start to play like a legitimate title contender in the Western Conference. If they remain healthy throughout the season, fans could once again see a thrilling matchup between the Warriors and the Rockets in the postseason.