Houston, You Have A Problem: Warriors will put all the pressure on Rockets in Game 1

Houston, You Have A Problem: Warriors will put all the pressure on Rockets in Game 1

HOUSTON -- It won’t take long for the Houston Rockets to face their first true test of the Western Conference Finals. It will come in Game 1.

It’s at their place, the Toyota Center, where their 34-7 regular-season record was unsurpassed. They won 20 in a row, from Jan. 10 to April 5, at home this season.

With the Rockets’ energy and focus turned upon the Warriors for two full years, a loss would be deeply troubling. A lopsided loss would be disastrous. They’ve lost at home only twice this calendar year, by 10 to the Warriors on Jan. 4 and by six to the Thunder on April 7.

Even though the money is on the Warriors win the series, it’s Houston that will be favored in Game 1.

“Both teams are going to try to force their will,” Andre Iguodala said.

Can you imagine, then, the scene in the home locker room if the Warriors were to win by 20?

The last time Houston lost at home by at least 20 points was May 11, 2017. Facing elimination against the Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals, the Rockets went out in Game 6 and laid an egg the size of Texas, the result being a 114-75 loss that sent the Rockets into the offseason.

Being routed Monday night would truly be an “Oh, crap” moment for the Rockets, tossing them into that dark place between panic and despair. They would be, in today’s vernacular, “shook.”

Don’t for a minute think the Warriors aren’t capable of pulling off a rout. Aside from a potential closeout, no game is more important to them than Game 1.

“It’s very important that we get off to a good start and that we’re locked in from the jump,” Draymond Green said. “When you’re going on the road against a very good team, you don’t want to let them come out and build on the confidence they already have.

“You want to come out and try to instill some doubt.”

In four Game 1s last postseason, the Warriors were 4-0, winning by an average of 12 points. In the series they most anticipate, facing the Cavaliers in The Finals, the Warriors won by 22, 113-91.

The Warriors were ruthless in closeout games last season, winning by 25 at Portland, by 26 at Utah and by 14 at San Antonio. Mike Brown could be proud of his work during Steve Kerr’s leave of absence.

In Game 4 at Cleveland, with a chance to sweep the Cavs -- and also become the first team in NBA history to post an undefeated postseason -- the Warriors downshifted and got worked in a 137-116 loss.

It’s much easier to downshift when you’ve won 15 consecutive postseason games and you know the 17th game will be in the comfort of your own building.

Facing the team logically considered the greatest threat to the Warriors repeating as champs, the Warriors will want to spend 48 minutes in overdrive. They don’t merely want to win Game 1. They want to drop the hammer.

“We’re playing our best basketball right now,” Stephen Curry said.

“We’re peaking at the right time, because our guys are really competitive and they know what’s at stake,” Kerr said. “They’re a lot more motivated now than they were a month ago.”

The pressure of Game 1 usually is on the visiting team. The common phrase is “we want to steal one,” so teams scratch and scramble in hopes of turning homecourt advantage in their favor. And the Warriors definitely want that.

But they come into this series with a very high level of confidence. They’ve seen enough video on the Rockets -- nearly a full hour before practice on Thursday and even more since then -- to memorize everything Houston has done to get here.

The Game 1 pressure is on the Rockets. They know it. The Warriors know it. And the Rockets know the Warriors know it.

Swaggy Champ tries to downplay 'Everybody needs to do cocaine' remark

Swaggy Champ tries to downplay 'Everybody needs to do cocaine' remark

Basking in the glow of winning his first NBA championship last week, Nick Young got himself into a bit of hot water on Tuesday night.

While coming out of a nightclub in Los Angeles, Young was approached by TMZ Sports for comments on Canada legalizing marijuana.

"I want people to pass cocaine. Everybody needs to do cocaine," Young said as he got into the passenger side of a car outside the club.

As you can imagine, that comment caused quite a stir.

More than five hours after TMZ Sports posted the video, Young went on Twitter and Instagram to try and put the fire out.

Chill. You know I was just joking

A post shared by Nick Young (@swaggyp1) on

Adam Silver talks competitive balance: 'Gotta give Golden State their due; on the other hand...'


Adam Silver talks competitive balance: 'Gotta give Golden State their due; on the other hand...'

How dare the Warriors.

They have completely ruined the NBA by...

... executing a plan and winning three of the last four championships.

It's just rude.

On Wednesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver joined the Golic and Wingo show on ESPN and the topic of competitive balance was discussed.

"I get it in terms of Kevin Durant going there. It was a bit of an aberration in our system; we had a spike in our cap, it enabled them to have additional cap room," Silver explained. "The Warriors will tell you they would have figured out a way to get it done anyway. I don't know.

"But even if Kevin Durant hadn't gone to Golden State -- and let's just say he had stayed at Oklahoma City, or let's say he had gone to another team, maybe in the East -- you clearly would have had a third team (in addition to the Cavs) that would have been much better; any team that has Kevin Durant will be -- but then you still have 27 other teams.

"So, you gotta give Golden State their due. I've said repeatedly, let's also celebrate excellence. Ownership, the job Bob Myers has done as a GM, Steve Kerr, of course, one of the great coaches in our league. Steph Curry, drafted; Klay Thompson, drafted; Draymond Green drafted 35th by Golden State.

"I don't think as a league we want to go about breaking up teams just to break them up -- just to force some sort of parity that is kind of unnatural."

In July 2016, Silver said that Durant joining the Warriors  was "not ideal from a league standpoint."

After all, he represents all 30 teams. And as a collective, the league wanted to "smooth the cap" over several years to prevent one giant spike -- which did provide the Warriors the ability to sign Durant.

"I can understand doing some things different in the system that may not have allowed a player like Kevin Durant to go to a team that was already so good.

"There's always a next collective bargaining agreement and over the years we've talked about a harder cap than we have now. The NFL has a much harder cap than we do; ours is somewhat soft. Obviously, it allows teams to go significantly above the cap and the tax level and that's the case with both Golden State and Cleveland. They are significantly above where our tax level is right now.

"So we'll continue to look at it. But in the meantime, hats off to Golden State and Cleveland for that matter. They are competing within the system. I'm still at the stage of celebrating the basketball we have right now.

"But I hear people. Listen, the 28 other teams, you know, they're the biggest complainers in terms of the fact that these two teams have met four times in a row."

Here's an idea -- stop complaining and keep trying to get better.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller