How one quote set up the Rockets-Warriors clash

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Yet this much remains the same: Green won't be showing much respect for the Rockets' anti-Warriors strategy anytime soon.

I understand why Durant feels that way, though.

Through guile, grit, and outstanding coaching, the Celtics went through two teams that had a talent advantage over them.

They'll open on the road on Monday, May 14 (May 15 in Manila), against the Rockets, who supplanted the Warriors as top seeds in the West this season with a league-leading 65 regular-season wins.

The Rockets took three of the four games the teams played this season including a gripping opening night game in Oakland. While their starting lineup of Davis, Mirotic, Holiday, Rondo, and E'Twaun Moore is formidable, they have to rely on their starters for most of the game. Playing at home was deemed too easy for them, so they often took 'er easy in those games, and sometimes they were burned.

Is Houston a threat? Houston's 122-121 win in October - a game in which they wiped out a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter - set the stage for what's to come.

The Rockets also have the edge in offensive efficiency during the playoffs, scoring a league-high 111.1 points per 100 possessions, 2.3 points more than the Warriors.

Houston wins series 4-1.

Paul, Rockets in command - or are they?
Golden State shot a poor 38 per cent from distance while the Pelicans buried, 14 of 31, or 45 per cent of their three-pointers. TOUGH CHALLENGE: The Pelicans never know which Golden State star might be on any given night - or all of them at once.

"It's different. I think our guys are taking the challenge and they're embracing it", Kerr said Thursday.

When the Pelicans stole Game 3 to make it a 2-1 Golden State lead, Kerr started the Death Lineup, the five-man smallball unit coined in the 2015 title run.

GAME 3: Sunday, May 20 at Golden State, 5 p.m.

These are the two best offenses in the National Basketball Association, and two of the best in league history. But Utah played team ball, and Mitchell is an all-out baller.

But the "appropriate fear" is built into this series' schedule. Nine months earlier, he'd stepped away from his job after Phoenix's surprise 2010 Western Conference Finals run - the Suns' last playoff appearance - and maintained it had everything to do with his family. Once you get the first one, there's a little bit of house money. Paul and James Harden should double their efforts on both ends of the floor if they want to strengthen their chance of beating the Warriors in a best-of-seven series. The Dubs realized the urgency to win a playoff series without Curry and ramped up their defensive intensity.

But the only way to do that is to have "appropriate fear" in your gut and use that as fuel for a strong start that never lets up.

"What the (expletive) are you talking about?" he said. We're going to go in here knowing we're the defending champs. I think that if we're doing what we're supposed to do on defense - all the switches, the weak side - and keep playing our offense by keeping that mentality all game long, we have the weapons to beat them. "The rest of that stuff will figure itself out". The new Rockets beat the Warriors two out of three times during the regular season. "(Paul) gives (the Rockets) a new dimension they haven't had.