Basketball: Title is focus, not Houston Rockets, says Draymond Green

Kevin Durant (left) of the Golden State Warriors and Draymond Green reacting after Stephen Curry (not pictured) made a shot against the New Orleans Pelicans during Game 5 of the Western Conference semi-finals. The Warriors will face the Houston Rocke
Kevin Durant (above left) of the Golden State Warriors and Draymond Green reacting after Stephen Curry (not pictured) made a shot against the New Orleans Pelicans during Game 5 of the Western Conference semi-finals. The Warriors will face the Houston Rockets on the road for Game 1 of the Finals on Monday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES • The mouth-watering match-up is set, but Draymond Green, the emotional linchpin of the National Basketball Association (NBA) champions Golden State Warriors, says it will be business as usual against the Houston Rockets.

"You know, they have made it known that their team is built to beat us," Green said of the Rockets.

"(It's) kind of their obsession or whatever you want to call it. All that stuff is cool. You can build your team, obviously you want to build your team to beat the defending champs because that's usually what you've got to do to get a championship.

"That stuff has been said for about a year now. It's time to play."

Green is averaging 13.1 points, 11.5 rebounds and nine assists in the play-offs.

The forward has also locked down a formidable Warriors defence that boasts the best defensive rating in the first two rounds of the play-offs.

They will open Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on the road on Monday against the Rockets, who supplanted the Warriors as the NBA's top seeds this season with a league-leading 65 regular-season wins.

But Green believes the Warriors' championship credentials mean they do not need to prove a point unlike their opponents, who will enjoy home-court advantage.

"We won two championships in three years," he said. "We don't have to run around talking about how bad we want to play somebody. We want to win another championship and it don't matter who is in the way of that."

And the bookmakers are mirroring Green's assertion with Golden State currently the betting favourite to defend their NBA title.

According to Las Vegas-based Westgate SuperBook, the second-seeded Warriors are -185 favourites to beat the Rockets in the Finals despite Houston having won two of their three regular-season meetings.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2018, with the headline 'Title is focus, not Rockets, says Green'. Print Edition | Subscribe