The Golden State Warriors (41-7) and San Antonio Spurs (37-11) have been the two best teams in the Western Conference all season, which is why many NBA analysts believe that those two teams will meet in the conference finals.
Well, the Houston Rockets (36-16) are looking to crash the party.
“We’re still under the radar,” Rockets forward Corey Brewer said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “Everyone is thinking Golden State and San Antonio, but if we keep playing the way we’re playing, we’re going to put our names in the discussion.”
Houston, which is currently the third seed in the West, is second in the NBA in scoring (114.1 points per game). Only the Warriors (118.0) are scoring more. The Rockets, however, are also allowing 108.0 points per game – 24th-most in basketball.
For that reason, and that reason only, many people discount the Rockets as true contenders.
“We understand the criticism,” Brewer said. “That’s why we’re working hard every day to get better defensively. The only way we’re going to have a chance to win a championship is if we get better defensively. I think that’s the ultimate goal, to get better.”
Brewer, 30, said that the Rockets actually work on defense more than offense in practice.
“We know our offense is good,” he said. “We’re trying to get better defensively. If we can get our defense anywhere near our offense, we’re going to be a championship team. I think everybody is committed because they know if we’re going to have a chance to win big, you have to be good defensively.”
As it stands, the Rockets have a bonafide MVP candidate in James Harden, who is third in the league in scoring (28.4 points per game) and first in assists (11.5). Houston will need Harden to maintain MVP form if it hopes to stay ahead of the Clippers (30-18) and Jazz (30-19), among others.
“The Western Conference is tough,” Brewer said. “You still have the Clippers, the Grizzlies, the Thunder, the Nuggets are playing well right now – every night it’s a fight, so you got to be ready. That’s why we got to be playing our best basketball.”
Houston hosts Atlanta (28-21) and Chicago (24-25) on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Each game tips off at 8 p.m. ET.