Warriors to face Rockets in first round of NBA playoffs

The eighth seed in the NBA took until the final day to finalize.

The Houston Rockets, who Golden State defeated during the Western Conference finals last season, will be the team’s first 2016 playoff opponent as the eighth seed in the West.

Houston is a different team than they were last year, though. They are middling, finishing the season 41-41, and they have gotten worse in almost every category compared to a season ago.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors locker room at Oracle Arena.

Led by James Harden and Dwight Howard, they’re down on rebounds, assists and fouls. They’re shooting efficiency has stagnated, and teams are scoring against the Rockets at will.

The only thing Houston has really improved on is protecting the ball. Still, guard Stephen Curry isn’t letting anything deter his preparation. He knows that the regular season goes out the window once the playoffs start. It’s a whole new season. A whole new ballgame.

Said Curry:

“They’re a very talented team, that for the most part, I know they’ve slipped up a couple times down the stretch, but they’ve done what they need to do to get a playoff spot. Playing some pretty good basketball.”

Curry added:

“You can’t go in thinking just because we beat them last year in five games that it’s going to be anything similar. This year is probably going to take on a life of its own. And there might be new challenges. So we have to be prepared for that.”

Preparation, though, is something that both teams won’t have much of. Houston, who has to travel first, possibly getting the lesser end of the stick. Head coach Steve Kerr said:

“It’s a quick turnaround. I always thought that the Sunday time slot was the coveted T.V. slot. Maybe that’s changed. That’s two years in a row we’re playing Saturday afternoon, so very little time to prepare. But obviously the same goes for Houston.”

If the Warriors win the series, they would advance to deal with either the Portland Trailblazers or Los Angeles Clippers.


Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.