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Can Warriors-Rockets become an elite rivalry again?

The Warriors and Rockets will play a season-defining game Thursday night in Houston.

How many times have I written a sentence like that in the last decade?

Too many to count.

So why is this time so different?

Or, more precisely, why doesn’t this confrontation arouse any feelings?

The Warriors and Rockets were once top rivals. Their contentious relationship was not as simple as that of the teams that often faced each other in the playoffs, it was broader, if not downright ideological.

The Warriors won’t admit it publicly because it’s not rude — the NBA is a so-called “brotherhood,” after all — but this core hasn’t been calling the shots behind the scenes. They hated the Rockets led by James Harden. They despised them. And they haven’t always been good at hiding it.

And the Rockets, bless them, hated the Warriors right back.

This is the kind of hatred between two teams that makes sport great.

Houston thought the Warriors were snooty favorites. The Warriors thought the Rockets were styleless hacks.

Both were probably right.

California Daily Newspapers

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