The better team won the 2018 Western Conference finals.
I’m not sure the more deserving team won, because that’s far too complex of a question for me to fathom here.
But the Warriors are better than the Rockets.
Golden State showed that by succeeding so much over the last few years. Golden State showed that by relying on younger and less worn-down stars than 33-year-old Chris Paul, whose injury was both unfortunate but also risked. And, of course, Golden State showed that by beating Houston in this series.
It’s not just that the Warriors won. It’s how they won.
Since signing Kevin Durant, they’d gone 24-3 in the playoffs entering the conference finals. Then, they went just 4-3 against the Rockets.
Credit Houston for pushing Golden State so hard. If Paul didn’t get hurt, the Rockets might have won this series. They did a great job of getting close enough to the Warriors to eke out a series win with just a moderate number of breaks.
Houston didn’t get those breaks, not with injuries and not with fickle 3-point shooting.
As the better team, Golden State didn’t need nearly as much good fortune.
The Warriors showed their supremacy throughout the series. Despite it going the maximum seven games, Golden State still outscored Houston by 63 points. That’s the Warriors’ best mark in their last four series – the other three of which each contained two fewer losses:
- 2018 conference finals: +63 against Rockets, 4-3
- 2018 second round: +43 against Pelicans, 4-1
- 2018 first round: +44 against Spurs, 4-1
- 2017 NBA Finals +34 against Cavaliers, 4-1
In fact, this is the third-highest margin ever in a seven-game series. Only the Celtics over Hawks in the 2008 first round (+84) and Philadelphia Warriors over St. Louis Bombers in the 1948 BAA semifinals (+63) had larger advantages.
A complete history of seven-game series by scoring margins (scroll all the way down to see an appearance by Golden State’s opponent in the Finals):