Chris Paul's two seasons with the Houston Rockets each ended the exact same way: Losing to the Warriors in the playoffs.
Paul was acquired by the Rockets ahead of the 2017-18 season to create a backcourt pairing with James Harden that could rival the Warriors' Splash Brothers of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Former Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has said in the past that everything Houston did, whether it be in the front office or on the court, was in the hopes of beating Golden State. Paul echoed that sentiment on JJ Redick and Tommy Alter's "The Old Man and the Three" podcast.
"We played the entire season when I was in Houston one way, basically defensively, and it was basically to get ready for Golden State," Paul said. "We played the whole season learning how to switch screens. The iso-ball that everybody hated, we played that way because we knew we were gonna have to do that in order to beat Golden State."
Paul explained the reason the Rockets switched on everything on defense, played small-ball and an iso-heavy offense had everything to do with the Warriors. It almost worked, too.
The Rockets lost to the Warriors in seven games in the 2018 Western Conference finals, but plenty of that had to do with a hobbled Paul. Houston actually led the series three-games-to-two after the first five games. Unfortunately for the Rockets, Paul strained his hamstring at the end of Houston's Game 5 win.
Paul averaged 19.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game the first five games of the series. All he could do was watch from the bench as the Warriors won the next two games to take the series.
The Rockets came back the next season with high hopes they could beat the Warriors in the playoffs with a healthy CP3. This time, they met the Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals, but they lost in six games. Paul played all six games, averaging 16.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.7 rebounds per game.
Paul and Redick also had a lot of battles with the Warriors when the two were teammates on the Los Angeles Clippers. That was a different story, though. The Warriors clearly had the Clippers' number, and Paul knows why.
"The reason they would give us issues is because our offense with the slip-screen and going to get JJ with 3s ... anytime we played any other team, we killed them with that," Paul said. "But when we played Golden State and they switched screens and did all this stuff, we couldn't run none of our stuff."
Paul now is on the Phoenix Suns and Redick is in his second year with the New Orleans Pelicans. Both teams will try to keep a much-different looking Warriors team out of the playoffs this upcoming season.