Basketball

Rockets can't wait to shoot down Warriors

Defending NBA champions Golden State Warriors face a Houston Rockets team assembled to beat them in a tantalising play-off showdown tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS, GAME 1
HOUSTON ROCKETS GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

The Rockets, sparked by NBA scoring champion James Harden, were 2-1 against Golden State in the regular season and went a league-best 65-17 overall, seizing a home-court advantage in the series.

After being ousted from the play-offs by the San Antonio Spurs in three of the past four seasons, the Rockets added star guard Chris Paul and three-point threat P.J. Tucker to join Trevor Ariza, then watched Swiss big man Clint Capela enjoy a career-best season with 13.9 points and 10.8 rebounds a game.

"It's going to be a fight," Capela said. "This team is going to be hard. There are going to be a lot of adjustments after every game. It's going to be a chess game."

The clash between the two offensively explosive teams has been anticipated since the start of the season.

"You wanted us. You got us. Now you've got to play the game," said outspoken Golden State forward Draymond Green. "Their team is built to beat us, their obsession.

"Obviously, you want to build your team to beat the defending champs because that's usually how you've got to go to get a championship. Understandable... It's time to play."

Golden State coach Steve Kerr added: "They are taking the challenge and they are embracing it. We seem to be at our best when we are threatened. And we're definitely threatened."

Kerr will be able to count on Warriors star Stephen Curry, who has made a solid return after missing several weeks with knee and ankle injuries.

"I feel confident in what I'm able to do," said Curry. "I continue to get better, continue to get my timing right, continue to get back to the normal rotations."

For Paul and Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni, it's a chance for their first NBA Finals berth. Harden made his alongside Durant with Oklahoma City in 2012. Now they all want to bring the Rockets their first NBA title since 1994 and 1995. - AFP

Basketball