Although Houston is still waiting on its second-round opponent following Los Angeles’ victory in Wednesday’s Game 5, the Rockets will reportedly fly to the Bay Area on Friday in anticipation of a Sunday matchup with the Warriors.
Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com reported the news, noting "the quick turnaround between series put Houston in the awkward position of making travel plans based on probabilities."
It’s hard to argue with Houston’s assessment of those probabilities. The Warriors are the Western Conference’s top seed and won three of the last four championships. They also have to win just one of the next two games against the eighth-seeded Clippers to advance and ensure the Rockets made the correct travel choice.
If Golden State blows a 3-1 lead against the Clippers like it did to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals, the Rockets will then fly back to Houston to host Game 1 of the second round.
MacMahon pointed to Houston’s desire to adjust to the Pacific time zone before a potential 12:30 p.m. PT game Sunday as one motivating factor behind the decision.
A postseason showdown between the Warriors and Rockets has felt like an inevitable conclusion ever since last year’s thrilling Western Conference Finals. Houston actually went ahead 3-2 but dropped the final two games with Chris Paul sidelined with a hamstring injury.
The Rockets are already preparing for the rematch, but the Warriors cannot afford to look ahead too much after failing to close out the underdog Clippers on Wednesday.