Houston is planning to travel to the Bay Area Friday to prepare for a possible series against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals, according to ESPN's Tim MacMahon. The issue with that, of course, is that the Warriors are still in the midst of their own series against the Clippers, with the latter winning on Wednesday to force a Game 6.
MacMahon notes the Rockets mean "no disrespect" with the hasty flight, and that the team plans to practice at Oracle Arena on Saturday simply in an attempt to acclimate to Pacific Time.
If Golden State defeats the Clippers Friday, the Warriors would host the Rockets on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. PT for Game 1. Since Golden State holds home-court advantage through the Western Conference finals, the Rockets intend to stay in California even if the Warriors-Clippers series goes seven games.
Houston's strategy could backfire, however, if Los Angeles completes the series comeback; the Rockets would then have to fly back to Texas to host the Clippers for Game 1, rendering their trip to California useless.
Some of the Rockets have been candid about their desire to face the defending champs this postseason. After his team eliminated the Utah Jazz Wednesday to move on, center Clint Capela admitted he was specifically hoping to catch the Warriors in the playoffs, courtesy of the Washington Post's Ben Golliver. Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni also suggested Wednesday he expects to face the Warriors in the conference semifinals.
The Warriors have eliminated the Rockets in three of the last four postseasons. The two sides went the distance in last season's conference finals, though the Warriors prevailed in Game 7 before going on to repeat as NBA champions.