The Golden State Warriors have controlled the Western Conference for the past three seasons, but this year, the Houston Rockets look like they could challenge the current NBA Champions at the top of the conference.
While the Warriors' superteam of Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson have been dominant, that reign could end this season, as the Rockets have given James Harden a new teammate and have improved their team in the process with the addition of Chris Paul.
Golden State will begin their NBA Championship defense against Houston tonight in their NBA season opener in which looks like could be a very close affair. Recently, Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said neither team could stop the other, saying: "You’re not gonna stop them. It’s just not gonna happen. They’re not gonna stop us, either."
Warriors' Draymond Green, however, does not believe this, and he actually found the comment quite annoying, so he decided to take a shot at the Rockets himself in response.
Green said, according to Mark Medina of the Mercury News: "I don’t know how serious they take defense with that comment but they added some good defensive players."
The biggest test for the Rockets in this game will not be if they can beat the Warriors straight off the bat, but if both Paul and Harden can co-exist and perform well on the court together, as well as compete with the superteam of Golden State.
Green said: “They want it to be a shoot out, which is fine. But we’re going to play some defense. We scored pretty well. But we’re a damn good defensive team too. So we’re going to play some defense.”
History says Green has every right to be confident entering this matchup, as the Warriors have dealt with the Rockets very easily, keeping them away from championship contention in both 2015 and 2016.
Golden State has been a top-five team in defensive efficiency in the past four years, as well as a dominant force on offense too. The Rockets have been strong on offense, trailing only the Warriors in total offense last season, but an area where they did lack last season was defense, as they ranked 26th in points allowed.
Since Paul is a seven-time NBA All-Defensive First Team, they've definitely tried to address that area this offseason, but we'll have to wait until tonight to see if his addition will improve the team on defense this season.