Warriors Reaction

CP3 claims Rockets ‘played entire season' to prep for Warriors

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Chris Paul and James Harden ruled the Western Conference with the Houston Rockets in the 2017-18 NBA season, but they still proved inferior to one team.

Paul, an 18-year NBA veteran and 12-time All-Star, recently described his two seasons in Houston and shared why he believes the Rockets fell short of a championship despite their overwhelming talent.

"To be real honest with you, that first year in Houston might have been top two, top three or the best team I've ever played on," Paul said on ESPN's "The Hoop Collective Podcast" with Brian Windhorst. "Like seriously, we were so connected defensively, offensively.

"And when I talk about basketball, I talk about it because those years I was in Houston, we played the entire season to get ready for one team: Golden State [Warriors]. We played the entire season, our defensive game plan, our offensive game plan, every single game was to get ready for Golden State because there's a certain way you had to play in order to beat those teams."

Paul averaged 18.6 points on 46 percent shooting, with 5.4 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.7 steals in his first year in Houston, and Harden dropped a then-career-high 30.4 points on 44.9 percent shooting, with 5.4 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 1.8 steals. The duo led the Rockets (65-17) to the Western Conference finals as the No. 1 playoff seed but fell to the team that Paul said they had prepared for all season long. 

Paul sustained a hamstring injury in Houston's Game 5 win over Golden State, and the Rockets fell to the Warriors in Game 7. They were only one game away from reaching the NBA Finals for the first time since the 1994-95 season.

Three seasons prior, the Rockets made it to the conference finals but again had their NBA Finals dreams ripped away by the Warriors.

Paul ended up parting ways with Harden in 2018 and remains on the hunt for his first NBA championship ring. Perhaps that will come with the very franchise that once haunted Paul, as he's reportedly headed to the Warriors in a trade from the Washington Wizards.

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