The Warriors have advanced to the NBA Finals for a fourth straight year. After a thrilling seven game series, the Golden State of Mind staff took some time to reflect on the Western Conference Finals. Here is part one of our round table:
Now that the Rockets Warriors series is over, did the series meet or exceed your expectations?
Charlie S: It met my expectations. The Rockets were the better team in the regular season, got unlucky with Paul’s injury and Harden ran out of gas. That’s the price of the Rocket’s style though. The Warriors continued to toy with us and their talent won out in the end. There were so many heroes for the Warriors in the series. Durant in Game 1, Thompson in Game 6, Curry from Game 3 onward. I’ll never forget Jordan Bell’s through-legs-pass to Curry in Game 7.
Nate P: The series met my expectations, but I gained a ton of respect for the Rockets in the process -- though I expected a competitive series, they probably exceeded my expectations in how well they played once Paul went down. I really didn’t think the Rockets would show so much heart in the face of adversity, I expected Harden to fold when things got tough (like after the 41-point loss), and there’s no way in hell I expected PJ Tucker to play as well as he did when his team needed him. That was probably the gutsiest performance we’ve seen from a Western Conference playoff opponent over the last four years, and I really hope these two have a shot to go at it again next year.
Daniel the GoldbloodedKing: Yeah, I called a sweep, so I would say this series exceeded my expectations. The Rockets’ defense was FOR REAL. Their offense wasn’t as good as advertised though, evidenced by them only scoring over 100 twice in this 7 game series. James Harden was fradulent as advertised though, and Coach Mike D’Antoni is still the same ol’ regular season dynamo coach that keeps comin up juuust short when it matters. But...yeah I didn’t expect them to take this long to be vanquished. Kudos to them.
Charlie: Note, Daniel called for a sweep.
Tom: I’d say it met my expectations. It wasn’t quite as wild as the 2016 Western Conference Finals against the Thunder but it was close to that. The endings of Games 4 and 5, the sloppiness by both teams (while the Warriors played terribly it wasn’t like the Rockets were running away with each game either) takes a little bit of the shine off. But the third quarter of Game 6 and the second half of Game 7 were both pretty magnificent.
Greg: This series exceeded my expectations; I thought it would go about six games but the Warriors would win with ease. After the first game, I was ready to call the Rockets frauds. They responded by punching us in the mouth in game two. From an entertainment perspective, this was the most entertaining series in the last two years. I really could have done without all the flopping and arm flailing though.
What was the key turning point in this series?
Charlie S: Paul’s injury was the key turning point. Within each game, the turning point was each half where the Warriors shifted from an unfocused team, and depending on Durant too often, to a team rooted in constant ball movement with the occasional Durant isolation.
Daniel: Andre Iguodala’s injury. As Coach Kerr said, it woulda been over in 5 with him there. The Dubs were winning regardless, just had to wait a lil’ longer with Iguodala out.
Tom: I’d point to that third quarter of Game 6. After that first half, the series could have easily been over. The Rockets wanted it more, the Warriors were just too lethargic or in too great of need of Andre Iguodala. Maybe the crown atop the Warriors’ head had become too heavy and thus this season would end in disappointment. But the Warriors did not go gentle into that good night of the NBA offseason and fought back, both in that game and in Game 7 (well, the second half of Game 7 but still…)
Greg: Once Chris Paul went down, that changed the momentum of the series. The Rockets were running a short rotation already and in the second half of game six and seven, that lack of bodies really affected the team’s stamina and pace.
Although the Rockets had the edge in the series up 3-2. Once Paul went down it felt like the series was already over.