The Golden State Warriors eliminated the Houston Rockets four times during their historic five-year run.
Still, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey can’t get over one of those playoff series loss in particular.
After the strategy of letting James Harden play iso-ball kept resulting in postseason failures, Morey made a blockbuster trade when he acquired All-Star point guard Chris Paul from the L.A. Clippers during the 2017 offseason, while also adding P.J. Tucker in free agency.
The roster moves helped the Rockets become the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and finishing the 2017-18 regular season with a 65-17 record.
Houston advanced to the Western Conference Finals and had a 3-2 series lead over the defending champion Warriors when Paul hurt his hamstring, causing him to miss the final two games, which the Rockets would lose.
Morey joined Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd and had a few words about that series:
“Really just one of all the all-time great teams is keeping us from winning, and a hamstring probably kept us from a title.”
"Really just one of the all time great teams and and a hamstring kept us from a title." @HoustonRockets GM @DMorey joins us: pic.twitter.com/F91XmVeIGn— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) May 20, 2020
While there is no doubt that Paul’s injury hurt the team, let’s not forget that his team still had two glorious opportunities to finish off the Dubs. Houston led Golden State by 17 points at the end of the first quarter of Game 6, but still managed to lose. The Warriors outscored the Rockets 64-25 in the second half and went on to a 115-86 win to force a deciding Game 7 in Houston.
Despite being the home team, the Rockets gave up an 11-point half-time lead, and at one point missed 27 straight 3-pointers, helping to a 101-92 win.
I remember being nervous going into Game 6 and the first-quarter struggles certainly didn’t help. The Warriors had a tendency to turn it on in the second half after struggling through the first 24 minutes, which they did in the final two games of the series.
Morey has nobody to blame but his own team, but the Dubs obviously deserve credit for not folding in either game.
We will never know if the outcome would have been different with Paul in the lineup, similar to how Warriors fans will always be left with the unknown after Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson got hurt during the 2019 NBA Finals.
Either way, this was an epic series that is one of my favorite playoff matchups of the last decade.
What do you remember most from this series?
On to some more links:
Warriors GM Bob Myers will have plenty of options on how to improve the team this offseason. NBC Bay Area’s Monte Poole caught up with Myers who talked about his options with the team’s 2020 first-round pick.
Who are some players the Dubs can target in the NBA Draft and via the trade market? The Mercury News’ Wes Goldberg looked at some options in his recent mailbag.
After ESPN’s “The Last Dance,” the debate on which players could’ve played in a different era rages on. Hall of Famer Magic Johnson weighed in on the subject and gave some love to a current Warrior. (h/t 95.7 The Game)
Marquese Chriss flashed his potential before the NBA season went on hiatus. Chriss joined the “Runnin Plays” podcast and gave some love to teammate Draymond Green for helping his development. (h/t NBC Bay Area’s Logan Murdock)
The Warriors have made some big moves at the NBA trade deadline over their history. Clutch Points made a list of every Dubs trade made at the deadline going back to 1947.