Last year’s near-Finals visit started with one main goal: To finish at the top of the tough Western Conference. That goal is still in place for next season.
The Houston Rockets finished with the best record in the Western Conference last season at 65-17. It ended up being the best in franchise history and landed them homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs.
This was huge and could have helped get them to the Finals, should Chris Paul have been healthy. The fans came early for the Conference Finals and the Rockets won two of their three games from that series in the Toyota Center.
The Rockets definitely want to be in that position again next season. In our interview with Daryl Morey, he said some interesting things about wanting to be the top seed:
“I think the main thing is that getting the one-seed is important, so we’re going to be shooting for that again. I think to take down Golden State, which is arguably the best team that’s ever played NBA basketball, you’re probably going to need homecourt.”
Obviously, every team will be trying to win as many games as possible, but the Rockets, in particular, are going to push hard for that position.
What does it take to beat the Golden State Warriors?
…Well, a lot of things, but step #1: pic.twitter.com/SvI60Qjahm
— theScore (@theScore) July 26, 2018
How that can happen
It’s very possible to be in that spot once again for the 2019 playoffs. Are the Rockets more talented than the Warriors? Of course not. Nobody, arguably ever, is. But the one thing the Warriors have done recently is taking a decent few games off during the regular season.
Golden State will have a weaker team, by their standards, until DeMarcus Cousins returns from injury at some point in the year. If Houston can come out strong and take a reasonable lead in the standings, the goal is very achievable.
The Rockets and the Warriors are both insanely good teams and one of them will likely have the best record in the league. For Houston to lock down that No. 1 seed, they need to come ready to play each game and not let any easy ones slip away.
Daryl Morey is definitely right, though. The top seed is very important and the Rockets would much rather play a Game 7 in a non-hostile environment.