The Warriors entered the 2019 Playoffs as back to back champions and looking to do something that has not been accomplished since the early 2000s, by winning three straight NBA titles, and Kevin Durant is looking to win his third Finals MVP in a row to join the likes of Shaq, Bill Russell, and Michael Jordan.
The question is can anybody from the Western or Eastern Conference dethrone them this season?
TNT’s Ernie Johnson was recently interviewed by Heavy’s Brandon Robinson, and according to him, Ernie thinks the Rockets and Thunder will give the champs a good series.
“I mean, I think that there are two teams that could give them a real good series, Houston or Oklahoma City,” said Johnson.
The Rockets are one of the most lethal teams in the NBA, led by reigning MVP James Harden and multiple time All-Star Chris Paul. Last year the Rockets were a game away from the NBA Finals they just came up a little bit short against this same Warriors team minus DeMarcus Cousins and Andrew Bogut.
Per Basketball Society Online, Houston success mainly comes from what they are able to do on the offensive side of the ball. Meaning, if they plan on reaching the Finals for the first time since 1995, they will rely on their offensive ability throughout the playoffs. It is also their best form of defense as they outscored their opponents from behind the arc this season.
Though Harden is the Rockets’ best player, they didn’t get to the fourth seed in the Western Conference only because of him. Gordon, Faried, Clint Capela, and Chris Paul all averaged double figures in scoring during the regular season. Capela is the team’s second leading scorer with 16.6 points a game, a career-high.
As for the Oklahoma City Thunder, they have focused on defensive leading to offense, as they lead the league in steals this season averaging 9.3 takeaways per game. They also finished the regular season ranked second in points off turnovers with 19.2 per game.
Paul George and Russell Westbrook led the Thunder to an 11-10 record since the All-Star break including a 5-0 record in April.
The two-time defending champs, on the other hand, went 16-9, winning 64 percent of their games since the break and averaged 115.1 points per game shooting 49% from the field.
So if those two teams cannot the champs, who can?
“Nobody,” Ernie Johnson said.
He would continue
“I still think that if Steve Kerr is trotting out that same bunch every night, nobody beats them four.”
The Rockets face the Jazz on Sunday and the Blazers play the Thunder.