The Golden State Warriors have the championship rings, the experience and the hunger for more. They also, however, have a healthy respect for their Western Conference finals opponent.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr anticipates that his players will have the appropriate motivation required to make a fourth consecutive NBA Finals appearance. The road to do so goes through top-seeded Houston Rockets this year, a team that features a star point guard (Chris Paul) and coach (Mike D'Antoni) bent on making their first career Finals appearance.
Kerr believes the Warriors have the proper mentality to meet the Rockets' challenge head-on.
"They are taking the challenge and they're embracing it," Kerr told reporters on Thursday. "But we seem to be at our best when we are threatened. That's been kind of the M.O. of this team, and we're definitely threatened."
Steve Kerr asked about the Rockets title hunger compared to the Warriors, who have two, so maybe not as much hunger: "I like where we are. Our guys have rings. That's a good position to be in." pic.twitter.com/ggzSS6GZhZ- Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) May 10, 2018
The Warriors, however, to be as confident as they are careful entering the matchup between the top two teams of the Western Conference. Kerr pointed to the team's winning experience -- and desire to earn more of it -- as a point in Golden State's favour.
"Our guys have rings," Kerr reminded reporters. "That's a good position to be in."
"We're going to go in here knowing we're the defending champs, knowing we got a couple of championships here the last few years," Kerr added. "Let's go get another one. It's a nice feeling to have and to go into a series with."
After wrapping up their Western Conference semifinals series against the New Orleans Pelicans earlier this week, Rockets center Clint Capela made it clear Houston is looking forward to this series with Golden State.
Take a look back at the epic clashes between the two best teams in the NBA!- NBA TV (@NBATV) May 12, 2018
Will the @warriors or @HoustonRockets come out on top to advance to the NBA Finals? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/BjQ5NonzPy
"This team is going to be hard; it's going to be a fight," he said. "There's going to be a lot of adjustments after every game. It's going to be a chess game. Of course, we're going to be ready. They've been to the finals for three straight years. We're just excited. Everybody's excited about it. And I'm sure all the NBA fans are excited about it, too."
"Obviously, we know what's ahead of us," Rockets forward Luc Mbah a Moute said. "That's the champs. It's going to be a tough task. You better be ready. But we have what we need. We've been that way all season. We're ready. They have to be ready for us as well. I think we showed all season we match up well with them.
"When you look at the team, we knew what we had as far as ... where we could go. We've done what we're supposed to do. We were the best team in the league all year, but that's not our goal. Our goal is to go further. So let's continue the goal."