The Golden State Warriors appeared to be looking past the LA Clippers in Wednesday night's 129-121 loss in Oakland. However, despite that lapse, the Houston Rockets, clearly believing the Warriors will close out the series, already made their plans to arrive in the Bay Area today, according to ESPN's Tim MacMahon.
While this may seem like "jumping the gun" or disrespecting the LA Clippers, the Rockets are actually making a smart move, here. The fact of the matter is that nobody is picking the Clippers to upset the Warriors in this first-round, one-versus-eight seed matchup. Golden State is a far better team, with tremendous star power, veteran leadership, and successful playoff experience. If the Dubs get the job done tonight, in Los Angeles, then the next round will begin on Sunday, in Oakland, against the Rockets.
Houston is well aware of this scenario and is simply hedging their bet. MacMahon writes, in regards to the Rockets' early arrival in the Bay. Per ESPN:
"The Rockets, who plan to practice at Oracle Arena on Saturday afternoon, want to make sure their players can adjust to Pacific Time in case they open the second round on Sunday afternoon. Game 1 would be scheduled for 12:30 p.m. PT if the Warriors can close out the Clippers.
If the Clippers extend the series by winning Friday, the Warriors will host Game 7 on Sunday afternoon.
In that case, the Rockets will remain in San Francisco and practice there Sunday. They would stay in San Francisco until the conference semifinals started if the Warriors advanced."
For the Warriors, their mission is still right in front of them: Beat LA. They will have to do so tonight, in southern California, at the Staples Center.
While the Clippers have played the role of the little brother who just won't give up in a fight in which they are clearly overmatched, Golden State should be able to put them away in Friday's Game 6. In fact, the Dubs, after losing Game 2 in dramatic-meltdown fashion, proceeded to claim victories in both of the following contests in the Clippers' house. The Warriors are no stranger to road playoff success.