Warriors wrapped up Christmas with a surprising Dub

Warriors (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Warriors (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

In a Christmas miracle, the ‘worst in the West’ Golden State Warriors managed to hand Houston some coal and win a game over the hopeful title-contenders.

Santa Claus may wear red and white but this Christmas, the gift of a win went to the Golden State Warriors.

It’s December 25th, and the NBA gifted us with an all-day Christmas tradition. A marathon of marquee matchups from the time we open presents until the time we’re confined to the couch because we’ve eaten so much food that we can’t move.

It’s a true gift.

The pairings always make sense. Basketball may be a game, but that game is powered by the hundreds of narratives unfolding across the league. So they give us the most exciting teams in the NBA, popular playoff rematches, and storied rivals.

The storied rivals from this Christmas day were the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors.

It’s not an even rivalry or a particularly long one, but it’s a good one nonetheless. You can trace it all the way back to the beginning of the Warriors dynastic run in the 2014-2015 season.

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They beat the Rockets 4-1 in the 2015 Western Conference Finals. The following year, they knocked them out in the first round in another 4-1 series.

Two years later they met in the Western Conference Finals again, and narrowly won a Game 7 against the retooled team now featuring Chris Paul and Eric Gordon along with James Harden.

That was the closest they’d get, however, as they met again in the 2018-2019 season conference semifinals and lost rather embarrassingly.

The Warriors were missing Kevin Durant due to a calf injury, and the Houston Rockets — virtually the same team that took them to the final seconds of game seven the year prior — had a legitimate chance to knock off the defending champs.

But behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Warriors rallied and won the series 4-2. You truly love to see it.

Coming into this Christmas, things were very different. The championship Warriors core is gone. Half are on other teams and half are injured. The Dubs, now focused on developing their young players, stumbled into Christmas with a Western Conference worst 7-24.

The Rockets swapped Chris Paul with Russell Westbrook, reuniting him and Harden from their days in OKC. They entered Christmas day sitting in the 4th seed in the West with a record of 21-10.

They were supposed to win this game. They didn’t.

The Dubs were heavily favored to lose, but they brought the Christmas magic with them to the Chase Center and everyone in attendance.

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Somehow, in this dark season, they’re still managing to break long-standing records.

The heroes of this game were Damion Lee, D’Angelo Russell, and Draymond Green. They had 20 points apiece.

And Lee, who also posted 15 boards, put up 17 points in the first half to keep the Warriors above water when they needed it most. It’s safe to say that without him, they wouldn’t have been able to pull off the upset.

The Dubs collectively shined with their defense, particularly on Harden, who is known for killing teams with his step-back three and effortless crossovers.

Monte Poole, of NBC Sports Bay Area, breaks it down in detail.

"“But the attention kept Harden from dominating the game, as he has so often this season. He scored 24 points (14.6 below his average), on 10-of-18 shooting from the field, including 6-of-10 from beyond the arc.”"

The Warriors not only held Harden to more than double digits below his 38.1 average, but they kept him off of the free-throw line as well. The Beard lives on the charity stripe and gets a hefty amount of his points there every game. The Dubs held Harden to zero free throws in the first half, and 0-1 for the whole game.

The internet, who remains undefeated, had a field day with roasting Houston for losing this surefire win.

This was a good win for these young Dubs, who are now victors of three straight.

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I’m sure everyone is relishing in yet another win over their “rivals” especially when no one on earth but anyone in the Warriors organization thought they could pull it off.