There’s History Between them
Fortunately, the Warriors should need no additional motivation come Christmas Day. The fact that they are playing the Rockets will give them all the incentive required.
Last season’s game 6 win in Houston, which knocked the Rockets out of the playoffs in the second round, was probably the most satisfying non-Finals victory in the Warriors’ recent period of dominance.
The series had been a hostile one from the beginning, largely due to Rockets’ belief that the Warriors had benefitted from bias officiating in the previous year’s Western Conference Finals.
Golden State also had to endure Houston’s claims that their 2018 series victory was largely down to Rockets point guard Chris Paul‘s hamstring injury, which forced him to miss games six and seven, both Rockets losses.
Yet when Houston failed to capitalize on the absence of Durant twelve months later, an asterisk was attached to this argument.
And after Paul cut short Stephen Curry‘s scheduled practice ahead of game 6 last season, the two-time MVP, and the rest of the Warriors, could not hide their delight when they sealed the Rockets’ fate:
Clearly, these teams do not like each other, and even though Paul is no longer on the Rockets, the animosity will endure.
Paul’s replacement, Russell Westbrook, is one of the NBA’s most volatile players and has been the victim of the Warriors juggernaut both on and off the court during his time on the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Considering the teams’ history and the personnel, expect the festive spirit to be scarce this Christmas on the Chase Center court.