DeMarcus Cousins’ torn quad may open the door for the Houston Rockets should they find themselves matching up against the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the NBA playoffs.
In 2018, the Rockets’ season ended with a Game 7 loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, but not without speculation regarding what might have been had Rockets point guard Chris Paul stayed healthy.
Sunday night in Game 1 of the Rockets’ first-round matchup against the Utah Jazz, Paul had 14 points and 7 assists, a mild mannered approach considering his usual playoff swagger. But its Paul’s ability to fill in and lead on the floor when Rockets’ superstar and leading MVP candidate James Harden needs a breather.
If the Rockets secure a victory against Utah and Golden State moves through the second round, Houston will be faced with a Western Conference Finals rematch much earlier than anticipated.
Could Paul be the difference, or could DeMarcus Cousins’ absence play as pivotal a role as Paul’s injury a year ago?
Late Monday night, in the wake of the biggest collapse in NBA postseason history (Clippers comeback from 31 down), Warriors guard Klay Thompson lauded Cousins’ contributions this season before conceding, “We really need him if we want to make this run.”
Is this just Klay Thompson being kind, or do the Warriors really need Cousins to make it through the Rockets and onto another NBA title?
Cousins is one of the more dominant centers in the league, but his nagging injury issues have put his future in doubt. He has averaged 21 and 10 in his career, but also is known to rack up defensive stats as well. And losing a forward averaging 16.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.5 bpg and 1.3 spg is a big deal. And the Warriors are the most vulnerable they’ve looked in years due to in-fighting among players, the prospect of Kevin Durant leaving in the summer and their 31 point meltdown to the Clippers.
That being said, the Golden State Warriors are still arguably the most talented NBA team ever assembled. If the Houston Rockets are to finally climb over the hill it won’t be because of Cousins’ injury, it will be because James Harden plays like an MVP in the postseason and because Chris Paul stays healthy enough to provide us with a few moments worthy of him sticking around for press conferences during the second round of the 2019 NBA playoffs.