After struggling earlier in the 2018-19 NBA season, the Houston Rockets have managed to bounce back and are set to make their seventh consecutive appearances in the Western Conference Playoffs. With the way that they are playing right now, most people believe that the Rockets are the biggest threat to the reigning NBA champions, Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors may be entering the 2019 NBA Playoffs with a starting lineup featuring five NBA All-Stars — Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and DeMarcus Cousins — but in an interview with Tim MacMahon of ESPN, Rockets power forward P.J. Tucker expressed strong confidence that they can win the NBA championship title this season if they become consistent with the performance on both ends of the floor.
“If we’re doing what we’re supposed to do, nobody can beat us,” Tucker said. “Anybody, don’t matter…. If we play at this level, we’re going to win. I don’t care who we play. If we play like we play tonight, we’re going to win.”
It’s easy to understand why P.J. Tucker is very optimistic about their chances of bringing home the Larry O’Brien Trophy this season. Last season, the Rockets almost eliminated the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals but they fell short after All-Star point guard Chris Paul suffered a hamstring injury in Game 5. The Rockets may not have much improvement in their starting lineup, but they managed to boost their depth with the acquisition of Austin Rivers and Kenneth Faried.
Rivers and Faried proved to be valuable backups to Chris Paul and Clint Capela, who both missed some games in the 2018-19 NBA season due to injury. Like Tucker, Rivers also thinks that the Rockets are capable of beating the Warriors and any powerhouse teams in the league in a best-of-seven series if they show the same intensity in the 2019 NBA playoffs.
“I really think we’re starting to peak at a good time going into the playoffs,” Rivers said. “If we can keep this up, like I said earlier and people made a big deal of it, but I think if we continue to defend like this and play like this, I really think we can do something special.”
Before talking about a potential rematch against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, the Rockets should first focus on the remaining games in the regular season. The Rockets have a chance of improving their standings in their last three games, which will determine who they will face in the first round of the NBA Playoffs 2019.