Chris Paul and James Harden look back at Paul's career-best playoff performance in Game 5 and how it all came together this year to bring the Rockets to the Western Conference finals.

OAKLAND – Now we'll see if Tilman Fertitta was right.

Back on Jan. On this memorable night, when the rookie owner of the Houston Rockets was celebrating a victory over the vaunted Golden State Warriors, he stood in a Toyota Center Suite and discussed the dream scenario that now lies ahead of his team.

One chance decimates a dynasty to disappoint the defending champions and take a step closer to winning the first crown since the 1994 and 1995 Hakeem Olajuwon-led teams – not to mention his money after setting a record of $ 2.2 billion for the team in early September. Both Finettas Rockets and the Warriors finished their Western Conference semi-finals in five games in a matter of hours on Tuesday, with Houston Game 5 winning at home against Utah 112-102 and Golden State New Orleans 113-104 in their game at the Oracle Arena [19659008] And now the next chapter of NBA history is unfolding.

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"Many things must be right (to win a title)" Fertitta told USA Today Sport that night. "You're still listening to all the speakers, and everyone says, 'Oh, it's probably going to be 100% Golden State (winning everything) … (but) we do not know what's going to happen, May or June. # 19659008] "This is a weird game, but nothing happens the way we think it will happen. I think that will be a surprising season. I think all the experts think they found out, and I do not think they do. I think we will all be surprised.

Or will we?

Here's an early look at the series' key factors and why I end up predicting a Warriors win in seven games


What says Now, if the Warriors did not have MVP Steph Curry twice for this showdown, then it would be 100 percent plausible to vote for the Rockets, but after Curry had spent nearly six weeks on an MCL, He missed the grade 2 sprain in his left knee, but he came away with four pelican matches in the second round.

He scored an average of 24.5 in these games (44.1% from the three-point range) nothing better than his 28-point, eight assists, seven-rebound excursion in Game 5. More important, he saw spry and offered no complaints about knee pain or discomfort, but that does not mean he's 100 percent.

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"It's hard to say, to be honest," he told reporters on Tuesday when asked when he would be completely healthy. "When I'm out there, I feel like I'm playing as if I had the attitude of being all the way back, but obviously your body sometimes has a head of its own.

" As long as my mind tells me I can do what I want to do on the floor, I do not really think about my knee, none of that, (and) that's a win for me. I just let the natural process of integration into the game take place. As long as we have games, I will always get better. "

Still, his presence is a game of pure star power in this series, and while Rocket Center Clint Capela looks like an all-star lately, the fact remains that the Warriors Stars (Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green), while the Rockets have two (Chris Paul and James Harden)), but the Rockets are also healthy, meaning that this is the matchup we've all been waiting for

[2] Motive of Motivation

A sports psychologist could have a field day with this matchup.

On the one hand, you have three Warriors All-Stars who are now four years in this dominating run with curry, Thompson and Green are, as Warriors coach / five-time champion Steve Kerr often argues, it takes a mental tribute that is good for so long that even if Durant has only two squadrons in this Warriors story, then they have the advantage and the will , w pus go on? We will see.

On the other hand, you have the well-documented post-war mistakes of James Harden and Chris Paul that will either burden them or inspire them to break through. Harden, whose only trip to the 2012 Oklahoma City finals came when the Durant-Russell Westbrook Thunder lost to Miami, had the worst end of a star player in the 2017 second-round playoff against San Antonio. And Paul, if you have not heard it somehow, will now be playing in the first conference finale of his 13-year career.

Until that breakthrough, he had played in more playoff games than any player in the league without reaching that point (86). His desire to play for it had everything to do with his move to Houston last summer, and this is his chance to get through.

In addition, Paul knows what it feels like to beat the Warriors in a playoff series. Before Durant arrived, Paul's Clippers outlasted Golden State in the first round of 2014 in seven games. One year later, the Warriors won the first of two titles ever since.


If this prediction proves true and the Warriors win in seven games, that means they finally made it to the home ground of the Rockets. The warriors, if they think about it, may have to pack them up in six rounds if they can do that.

Houston was tied with Toronto for their best home record this season (both 34-7). One of those Rockets losses came against Golden State (124-114 on January 4). The warriors were 29-12 in the street.

Follow USA Today Sport Sam Amick on Twitter.


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