If the Golden State Warriors spent the first 75 percent of the regular season in cruise control, they’re ready to wake up for the final one-quarter of the schedule.
Who do we credit with their decision to express a suddenly deeper interest in regular-season results? Definitely Klay Thompson, an understated competitor who visibly cares about the outcome of games. Mostly, though, there’s the Houston Rockets. They are currently outpacing the Warriors with the NBA’s top record, and the Warriors, believe it or not, care. They want to catch them.
Or so says Stephen Curry.
As he told NBA.com’s David Aldridge:
“I mean, yes, because they do it a different way, I guess,” Curry said last week. “They adopted the power of the three ball and try to use it as a main weapon, and obviously with James and CP together. Honestly, we know that they’re playing well. We’re chasing that number one seed and keeping tabs on how they’re playing and whatnot. But at the end of the day, we’ve got a lot of time left before we have to face them again. We know they’re serious. But so are we.”
The Rockets have won 15 straight and, almost literally, been unbeatable when James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela appear in the same game. They project as a legitimate threat to the Warriors’ throne—more so than anyone else over the past four years—including the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers, who ultimately beat them in the NBA Finals.
And yet, most of us should have the inkling to forecast the Warriors as owners of the NBA’s top record. They are a different team altogether when they’re locked in, and even if their engagement wanes between now and season’s end, they have one of five easiest remaining schedule, according to PlayoffStatus.com.
Granted, it really doesn’t matter whether the Rockets or the Warriors win the rights to home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. We should really only care, only hope, they get to meet each other in the Western Conference Finals. But, yeah, if we’re going to pick, the Warriors remain the safest, if smartest, choice.