NBA Playoffs 2018: Chris Paul Determined To Win First NBA Championship Title

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After all, this team has talent coming out of its ears.

That's right, I said it. James had a better team around him a year ago (Kyrie Irving!) and he and the Cavs managed to win just one Finals game en route to losing to the Warriors.

On a night where All-Star running buddy James Harden didn't have it going - just 18 points on 7-for-22 shooting in 35 minutes for the likely 2017-18 NBA Most Valuable Player, Paul took over. Houston's net rating was 8.5, to 8.0 for the Warriors.

After beating the Utah Jazz on Tuesday, the Rockets are in the Western Conference Finals for the second time in four years, set to square off with the Golden State Warriors.

In March - amid a bad run of injuries - the Warriors threw in the towel in the battle for the No. 1 seed. These are exciting times for all of them, but not an easy ones.

The Warriors beat the Rockets in five games in the 2015 conference finals, and then came back in the first round in 2016 to drop them in five.

Meanwhile, Paul was at the center of the Houston offense to close the game.

Could the Golden State Warriors big-four round out their starting lineup with yet another superstar this offseason? I could see a scenario where the Warriors utilize their Death Lineup (all of a sudden known as the Hampton 5) more often.

These two series could very well go the distance.

Through guile, grit, and outstanding coaching, the Celtics went through two teams that had a talent advantage over them. They also need to limit the production of Klay Thompson. The Rockets will have to take it from them.

Is Houston a threat?

Personally, I believe the Rockets have made the appropriate adjustments to dethrone the Warriors this season.

Houston wins series 4-1. Our guys have rings. Each team picked up a win on the road.

These Warriors truly are elite sandbaggers.

Against the New Orleans Pelicans, Golden State averaged 115 points in five games, giving up 106.4. The Golden State Warriors defeated the San Antonio Spurs 116-101. The gritty play of Green and Igoudola combined an offense that spreads the floor and moves the ball better than any team in the league will force the Rockets to play a near flawless series in order to advance.

But the "appropriate fear" is built into this series' schedule. Paul and James Harden should double their efforts on both ends of the floor if they want to strengthen their chance of beating the Warriors in a best-of-seven series. After all, they are the No. 1 seed out west. Once you get the first one, there's a little bit of house money.

Let's start with the basics. "I think I'm not supposed to say that, but we're basically obsessed with 'How do we beat the Warriors?'"

"We are going to see if they are going to be able to adjust and at times be uncomfortable", said Kenny Smith, TNT analyst and two-time champion with the Rockets. "The rest of that stuff will figure itself out". "I'm sure all the National Basketball Association fans are excited about it, too".

During the regular season, Golden State and Houston played three times.

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