The 2018 Western Conference finals was an epic battle between the Warriors and Rockets.
In the end, Golden State overcame a three-games-to-two series deficit and prevailed by winning Game 7 in Houston.
In the most recent episode of the "Book of Basketball 2.0" podcast, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey discussed that matchup with Bill Simmons.
When Simmons said, "If you played that series 10 times, I think you win six," Morey took it one step further.
"Six or seven," he declared. "I'd say seven but if you went to Vegas they'd say more like six."
To quote HBO's John Oliver:
Let's start by saying that Morey is incredible at his job and is one of the best GMs in the NBA.
But what is he talking about? He clearly is basing his statement on historical information and data relating to the fact that the Rockets had homecourt advantage and won 65 regular-season games compared to Golden State's 58 victories.
But those analytics ignore the fact that the Warriors backpedaled into the playoffs after dealing with a plethora of injuries over the final month of the season. Remember, Steph Curry sprained his knee and missed 16 of the last 17 games, plus the first-round series against the Spurs and Game 1 of the West semis against the Pelicans.
Losing Chris Paul at the end of Game 5 obviously was a massive variable, but Morey hurt his case when he said: "Steve Kerr took some heat for talking about (Andre) Iguodala being out. But he was right. Iguodala was so, so good for them that year. He actually was a very key player against us in particular, which I think is why Steve talked about it.
"Obviously, we were like, 'Well, boohoo. You have four All-Star level guys, five if you count Iguodala.' That's true, but Iguodala is a very important player in beating us at the time."
The Warriors took a two-games-to-one series lead by crushing the Rockets by 41 points in Game 3, but they lost the 2015 NBA Finals MVP for the rest of the series after he sustained a "spider fracture" in his left leg.
So if Iguodala doesn't get hurt and both teams are completely healthy, would that change Morey's calculations? Or is his "six or seven" statement based on the Rockets being ahead in the series three games to two, and leading by 17 points at the end of the first quarter in Game 6? (And then leading by 13 points early in the third quarter of Game 7.)
Also, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the memo the Rockets created that claimed the referees cost them the championship.
Ultimately, you can't blame Morey for still being extremely frustrated that Houston fell short in 2018. Likewise, you can't blame him for being upset that the Rockets couldn't beat the Kevin Durant-less Warriors in last year's Western Conference semifinals.
Fortunately for Morey and his squad, the Warriors won't be in their way this year.
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