While the Houston Rockets have made it known all season long they’re consumed with taking down the Golden State Warriors, the defending champions don’t share a similar “obsession” according to Draymond Green.
The teams will meet in the Western Conference Finals after storming through the playoffs, setting up what was an inevitable clash of the titans.
Whereas Golden State have been here before, having reached three straight Finals and coming away with two titles, Houston have shown an eagerness to dethrone the champions to blaze their own path.
“They have made it known that their team is built to beat us,” Green said after the Warriors eliminated the New Orleans Pelicans in Game 5 of the second round. “Their ‘obsession’ or whatever you want to call it, it is what it is.”
Though the Rockets claimed two of the three regular-season meetings and won an NBA-best 65 games to keep Golden State from grabbing the one seed for the first time since 2014, Green claimed his side aren’t fixated on proving anything to their challengers.
“Man, we won two championships in three years. We’re not about to run off talking about how bad we want to play somebody,” Green said.
“We want to win another championship, and it don’t matter who’s in the way of that. If you’re in the way of that, then you happen to be in the way. But we’re not about to run around like, ‘Yeah, we want to play them in the conference finals.’ For what? It doesn’t matter to us who we play. However, we got them. All right, now let’s get it. We get to it now.
“We’ve got a goal. Whoever is in the way of that goal, then we got to see you. You got to see us. All right now, they’re in the way. Perfect. But we’re not running around talking about, ‘Man, we want them bad.’ Nah, we want a championship bad. Another one.”
Often, the best series in the NBA playoffs come before the Finals.
It certainly looks like that will be the case in this year’s postseason as the clash between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals has the potential to be epic.
The Warriors are attempting to reach the Finals for the fourth straight year and snatch a third title, while the Rockets had an NBA-best 65 wins this season and are led by their own superstar core of James Harden and Chris Paul.
That got us thinking, what have been the best conference finals we’ve seen in playoff history?
Check out our list below, which features some all-time battles.
You can’t get a closer series than the one this rivalry produced in 1981, which saw five of the seven games decided by two points or less, including the final four. Trailing 89-82 late in the fourth quarter of Game 7, Boston fought back to win the series after falling into a 3-1 hole.
While Lakers fans will remember this for being a thrilling series in 2002, it’s a sore spot for Kings fans who rightly took umbrage with what seemed like one-sided officiating. Nevertheless, it was highly entertaining as LA came back from 3-2 down to win in overtime of Game 7 en route to a three-peat.
Los Angeles Lakers vs Portland Trail Blazers, 2000 Western Conference Finals
Before they claimed their first title of this century, the Lakers were on the ropes in 2000, down 15 points in Game 7 to a Portland team that had erased a 3-1 series lead. Just when it seemed like LA were going to blow it, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal responded with a monster fourth quarter to advance.
Reggie Miller and the Pacers nearly ended Michael Jordan’s second three-peat bid in 1998 during a back-and-forth series. After the Bulls won the first two at home, Miller was spectacular in Game 3 and 4, hitting a game-winner in the latter. When it got to Game 7, however, Jordan wouldn’t be denied.
Boston Celtics vs Detroit Pistons, 1987 Eastern Conference Finals
Physical doesn’t begin to describe how much of a slugfest this series was in 1987. Boston would go on to win in seven games, but one of the most iconic moments in playoffs history came in Game 5 when Larry Bird stole Isiah Thomas’ inbound pass and found Dennis Johnson for the game-winner.
Houston grabbed the lead early on, but Utah pulled back and held the lead going into the final quarter in the do-or-die clash.
The Rockets will be looking to see off the Warriors in the next round, having seen their play-off dreams cut short by Golden State in two of the last three seasons.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, @CP3 becomes the first player in a playoff game with:
🏀 40+ points
🏀 10+ assists
🏀 0 turnovers
Highlights ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/54EkqXUh7M
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) May 9, 2018
Draymond Green was within one assist of a triple-double in the 113-104 victory, scoring 19 points and having 14 rebounds.
Curry scored 28, with Kevin Durant having 24 and Klay Thompson 23, while Anthony Davis led the Pelicans with 34 points and 19 rebounds and Jrue Holiday hit a triple-double with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.