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Rockets-Warriors Q&A with Golden State of Mind

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Daniel Hardee of @Unstoppablebaby has some fun with us and answers questions.

NBA: Playoffs-Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Game 3 is tonight, and there’s no better time than now to get a Q&A off with our friends over at the opponent’s SB Nation home, Golden State of Mind, and contributor, Daniel Hardee (DHardee_SBN). Tell us what you think of his answers, give us your own answers, and, most importantly, be gracious to our guest!

OK, since you started with the CP3 question, I’ll ask one of my own: Do you believe the series goes differently in 2018 if Chris Paul is 100% healthy after the Rockets claim a 3-2 series lead?

100% healthy? That deep in the playoffs? Yes, the series would be different because we’d have to test CP3 for steroid use.

But in the spirit of the question... the Warriors wouldn’t be a dynasty if they couldn’t overcome series deficits. You may recall they once overcame a 3-1 deficit to the Oklahoma City Thunder (who at the time employed the unstoppable Kevin Durant). I have no reason to believe they wouldn’t do the same last season, no matter who was in a Houston jersey.

As the great coach Rudy Tomjanovich once said, “Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion.”

A lot of people have claimed this year’s Warriors might be the weakest the team has been in the KD era. Do you think this series is (or was supposed to be) the Rockets’ best chance to finally get past the Warriors? Or was it last year?

Yeah, it’s tough to be at full strength when you lose the top two centers on your depth chart for most of the season. For this team to lose DeMarcus Cousins and Damian Jones and still be a presumptive favorite is a major credit to our GM Bob Myers for making an “excuses-proof” roster.

This “weaker” version of the Warriors still deploys the Hamptons 5, which has terrorized the Rockets throughout the first two games of the series.

I believe Houston’s best chance was definitely being up double digits at home in Game 7 last year. Or maybe back in 2016, when Steph Curry only played 38 total minutes in the series because of a bad combo of knee and ankle injuries.

What part of the Rockets’ game are you most afraid will get rolling in Game 3 and could potentially turn this series around? It could be a player too.

Eric Gordon is a PROBLEM. He’s either launching from 30 feet or turboing into the lane like a young Earl Campbell. He will probably be hyper-excited to battle in front of y’all’s loud home crowd Saturday. If he gets rolling, the Warriors defense will have more to worry about than James Harden trying to hypnotize them with a billion dribbles.

What do you hate most about playing the Rockets, and what do you most respect about them?

I hate how well Houston controls the pace. The Rockets are amazing at disrupting the Warriors’ momentum, keeping them off of the fastbreak. Harden and CP3 are so methodical that they normally limit turnovers, and they spend a lot of time at the foul line, slowing the game down even more.

And Houston’s defense will straight up take the ball from you if you’re careless. Any sloppy passes are getting intercepted. Any weak forays to the rim are getting rejected. The Warriors love to play fast and free, your team is a master at slogging the game up.

I respect Houston’s willingness to experiment wildly in the name of defeating the Golden Empire. It’s like the Rockets took the “slow-it-down”, “give-it-to-the-star”, iso-ball principles of the 90’s, except with almost 0 mid-range jumpshots, and 400% more three-point attempts. I have only seen basketball like that in the wild world of NBA2K.

I also respect P.J. Tucker. He’s a real one. When he gets activated, it seems like he’s the best player on the floor in spurts.

Y’all’s Twitter handle wasn’t always “unstoppablebaby,” right? Like, there’s no way it was that before 2015. If there’s a drastic decline in success in the next couple of years, should you change it?

While it’s easy to see why you’d think that handle is a symbol of our arrogance in the present, it’s far more a representation of our own humility and self-deprecation during some of the darkest times in the franchsise’s past.

In the midst of a 19-win 2000-01 season — tied for the worst record since the team moved to Oakland — 26-year-old rookie Marc Jackson (not That Guy, but the other guy) was one of the very few things to be excited about. He was a fresh face, was giving people buckets, and actually made the All-Rookie team that year. I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I was about Jackson — we were desperate for any form of hope at that point and he was the best thing going.

Anyway, at one point during a blowout against the Dallas Mavericks that season — there were a couple of them so I can’t remember exactly which — Jackson hit a layup and then turned to the Mavs bench and yelled, “Unstoppable, baby!”

I think that’s just the attitude we’ve always had at the blog -- win or lose, we’re going to have fun with this team regardless. We’re definitely aware of how that comes off now, but it’s also an acknowledgement of the roots of so many within DubNation.

Oh yeah — Jackson was later traded for Dean Garrett and was on his way out of the league during the 2007 We Believe run. But his legacy lives on via Twitter.

Are you actually worried about Kevin Durant or Klay Thompson leaving? Do you think it’s even possible to continue the success if both leave, especially Klay?

I’m not worried. I was a kid who grew up in Oakland watching the Warriors get bodybagged by legends like Hakeem Olajuwon; that was when it was time to actually WORRY. This dynasty has been a cathartic experience.

The team was pretty terrible for like four decades. If the Dubs finish this three-peat and win 4 titles in 5 years, I’ll be far too grateful to rue KD or Klay’s free agency decision.

But, worst-case scenario, if both of them leave, I guess the Warriors would be forced to build around an MVP high-usage guard who loves shooting three-pointers. The Rockets seem to think they can win a title with that formula; maybe the Warriors could try that out and see how it goes?

You’re rebuilding the franchise from scratch, and I’m guaranteeing you’ll have this player from the start of their prime and the following 10 years after, who do you pick: Durant or Stephen Curry?

Curry, easy answer. They’re both monsters on the court, but I’m thinking beyond that. Curry was given the task of leading a franchise from the trash heap into the promised land... and he delivered.

He has established a standard of sacrifice and brotherly love that is akin to what Tim Duncan carried for the Spurs. His leadership is what attracted stars like Iguodala, Durant, and Cousins to join him. His winning spirit is an invaluable intangible that doesn’t come around very often.

But if KD drops 40 on Houston Saturday, I’d be tempted to change my answer. Ugh, it’s so hard to be a Warriors fan.