The Houston Rockets will enter the 2019 offseason once again wondering what they must do to topple the Golden State Warriors. For a second straight year, their season ended at home at the hands of Stephen Curry and company, as they couldn’t quite figure out how to take down the juggernaut in a seven-game series.
The Rockets are built to try and take down the Warriors, but one has to wonder if their window is closing a bit more rapidly than they originally hoped when they paired James Harden with Chris Paul, who is beginning to show the effects of aging. Paul has battled hamstring injuries each of the last two years, including one that forced him to watch as Houston bricked its way to a Game 7 loss in 2018. He’s not getting younger and while he’s shown flashes of brilliance, it’s clear he doesn’t have the same burst or ability to get to the rim that was once there.
Beyond the question of whether Father Time will catch up with Paul before he can break through to the Finals, there’s the question of whether two straight years of losing to Golden State will take its toll on the relationship between the star guards. Harden’s iso-dominance has transformed Houston’s offense into a much more stagnant system than what Mike D’Antoni has run in the past — and what Paul has been most comfortable in during his career. They’ve adapted to what works best for Harden and, as such, the team, but after two straight playoff exits a reckoning may be coming in the form of push back from Paul.