Warriors

Why Draymond relished Warriors beating Rockets in 2018

Warriors
Warriors' Draymond Green

You never forget your first, but you never forget your first driven by spite, either.

That's essentially what Draymond Green said Wednesday in a Bleacher Report "AMA" when a user asked Green which of his three championships he enjoyed most. Green picked the Warriors' 2017-18 title -- the only season in which Golden State's dynasty repeated as champions -- because the Warriors eliminated a true challenger.

Well, at least one team which thought it was a challenger.

"[There] was something that took place during that run, which was my favorite moment of any run, which was beating the Houston Rockets," Green wrote.

"They had said this team is built to beat the Golden State Warriors. They were on record saying that all year. Well, they had their chance, up [three-games-to-two] ... and that was the end of their run. That was my favorite moment of any run. That’s ballsy to go public and say you’re going to beat us and they did it. They said it all year. That was my favorite moment."

The Rockets, led by then-general manager Daryl Morey, had the Warriors in their sights all season. Every team could've said the same about Golden State after a 16-1 run through the 2017 NBA playoffs, but Houston especially fit the ball.

Morey swung a trade for Chris Paul and signed P.J. Tucker, Luc Mbah a Moute, and Gerald Green as free agents ahead of and during the season. These Rockets didn't go super-small like they would a year later in an effort to beat the Warriors, but Houston had the NBA's best record (65-17), offensive rating (115.48, per Basketball-Reference), and net rating (plus-8.64) in the regular season.

 

What the Rockets didn't have, especially after pushing the Warriors on the brink of elimination, was health or an answer for Golden State's "Big 3." Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson scored 167 of the Warriors' 216 points in Games 6 and 7 (good for over 77 percent), while Paul missed both games a hamstring injury.

Add in an 0-for-27 stretch on 3-pointers in Game 7 -- albeit from a team that was never quite as efficient from beyond the arc as the "Moreyball" moniker would have you believe -- and you have the recipe for Green's favorite championship run.

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You can't rule out the recency bias, either. A year after vanquishing the Rockets, the Warriors lost the championship, plus Durant and Thompson to season-ending injuries. Thompson hasn't touched the floor since then, nor has Golden State made the playoffs.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said last month that Green's pursuit of another title still fuels him, and Green is as confident as ever about Golden State's chances next season. Maybe Morey's Philadelphia 76ers can be the heel Green needs in order to relish his next title more than any other.

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