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"We know they are ready, and we'll be ready for them". And Chris Paul himself has lost 13 of his past 15 games against the Warriors. Teamed with James Harden in Houston this season, Paul let someone else quarterback the squad.

In the first quarter of the Warriors' 113-104 win over New Orleans, he took a break from jawing with Rajon Rondo and firing up his team to engage in some levity.

Despite Houston's compelling regular season, the question remains: will the Rockets' passion for eradicating their postseason nightmares be enough to unmask the Warriors seasoned starting five? Can the Warriors play tighter defense like they did against the Spurs against the Rockets or will they find themselves in another up and down the floor type of series here?

Jordan and the Bulls went on to lose the Eastern Conference Finals later that year against the Detroit Pistons by 4-2 in the series, so Paul and the Rockets will be hoping they don't follow the same fate against the Warriors this year in the West. "We know they are ready, and we'll be ready for them". "It throws a lot of these groups off, but for us, we've got a versatile group that can play different ways". They say they're just getting started and will only get better from here. The two were crucial in the win against the Jazz, allowing the team to advance to the Western Conference Finals.

Houston has been rolling along all season, following up their 65 regular season wins with eight wins in 10 postseason games.

Per TicketIQ.com, via SLAM Online's Jesse Lawrence, the average ticket price of $965 is the highest for a conference finals since the site began tracking data in 2011.

There's a reason it has been billed as the de facto NBA Finals since these teams met for a third time in January.

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The Westgate opened the over/under on Game 1 at 225.5. If you're in the way of that, then you happen to be in the way.

In Paul's 10 seasons after his two OKC years, he averaged 10.2 assists per game but became a sympathetic figure.

"In the first series, we played a slow game against San Antonio then we sped it up this series [against the Pelicans]", Durant said. We're looking forward to an opportunity to play this game deep in the season, it's a joy and a pleasure.

"We thought we had the game in hand", Kerr added.

"Everybody at the beginning of the year thinks they've got a chance to be here", Houston's P.J. Tucker said. The Dubs had made light work of their first round opponent, but Stephen Curry hadn't played in weeks and the Pelicans suddenly looked like Western dark horses.

It's all we've been asking for.