Let the drama be­gin

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - SPORTING GREEN - Al Saracevic is sports ed­i­tor of The San Francisco Chron­i­cle. Email: asarace­vic@sfchron­i­cle .com Twit­ter: @al­sarace­vic

Re­lax. Take a breath. Ev­ery­thing’s go­ing to be all right.

The War­riors took a beat­ing in Game 2 of the Western Con­fer­ence fi­nals, but what did you ex­pect?

More im­por­tantly, what did you want?

The Houston Rock­ets were the NBA’s best in the reg­u­lar sea­son, win­ning 65 games and lock­ing down home-court

ad­van­tage through­out the play­offs. Did you ex­pect them to lie down? Did you want them to?

I hope not. Af­ter the War­riors snatched the home-court ad­van­tage by win­ning Game 1 in Houston, it looked like this might be a cake­walk se­ries. The “real” War­riors had arrived and it

was only a mat­ter of time.

In­stead, the “very real” Rock­ets showed up for Game 2, and we have our­selves a good old-fash­ioned show­down. The two best gun­slingers in town, fac­ing off, spursa-jinglin’.

“We al­ways talk about what we do great and what they do great; some­thing’s gotta give,” the War­riors’ Stephen Curry said af­ter the loss. “Now we’ve got to go home and re­cal­cu­late, fig­ure out how to get the mo­men­tum back on our side. Get our home crowd into it, and (we) should be in good shape.”

Hal­lelu­jah. If you’re any kind of bas­ket­ball fan, that’s what you should be root­ing for. Com­pe­ti­tion at the high­est level. Sure, it’s stress-free to watch your team roll through one op­po­nent af­ter an­other. (See, 2017 NBA play­offs, War­riors, 16-1). But ev­ery great cham­pion needs a foil. And Golden State has found its other half in Houston.

Did it ever. War­riors head coach Steve Kerr didn’t mince words Wed­nes­day night: “They kicked our butts. No other way to say it.

“They got the game ex­actly where they wanted it tonight. They got every­body go­ing. They got every­body in­volved. The ex­act op­po­site of Game 1. So give them credit. They brought it. They got it done.”

Now, we’ll see how things play out. There should be plenty of ten­sion on the court for Game 3 in Oak­land on Sun­day. Here’s hop­ing there’s some great bas­ket­ball, too.

Let’s face it. These are the ac­tual NBA Fi­nals. It’s been fun to watch LeBron James carry his Cavs through the East­ern Con­fer­ence bracket. And Brad Stevens is work­ing mir­a­cles in Bos­ton. But, re­gard­less

“Now we’ve got to go home and re­cal­cu­late, fig­ure out how to get the mo­men­tum back on our side. Get our home crowd into it.”

Stephen Curry, War­riors guard

of who pre­vails there, nei­ther of those teams can stand up to the War­riors. And they prob­a­bly can’t beat the Rock­ets, ei­ther.

So, if you were hop­ing to see some great bas­ket­ball at some point this sea­son, now’s the time. The reg­u­lar sea­son and first two rounds of the play­offs were one long warmup for the main event. That’s a long time to wait for a bout. Who wants to see a TKO in the sec­ond round?

Not me. I be­lieve the true fan ex­pe­ri­ence is height­ened by un­cer­tainty, anx­i­ety and con­cern. (Then again, I grew up in Cleveland.) Sounds like the War­riors feel the same way.

“That’s kind of how a se­ries like this is go­ing to be,” said Curry, who didn’t play well in Game 2’s 127-105 loss. “Game af­ter game, it’s go­ing to be a chess match. Tonight, we just didn’t make enough plays to stop the mo­men­tum in this build­ing, and that was the difference in the game . ... So we’ve got to be ready for that kind of ag­gres­sive­ness from them in Game 3 and keep do­ing what we’re do­ing.”

OK. He’s say­ing all the right things. But the proof will come when the ball goes up. Can Curry re­gain his magic touch? Is he in­jured? Will Klay Thomp­son score more than eight points? Can Dray­mond Green hold down his in­fa­mous tem­per? Will the Beard per­se­vere?

All those ques­tions and more will be an­swered over the course of this se­ries. Re­mem­ber: This is what you wanted. A true test for the War­riors.

As a jour­nal­ist, I have no horse in this race. I root for ten­sion, con­flict and res­o­lu­tion. It’s the recipe for any great story. Let it be told.

Car­los Avila Gon­za­lez / The Chron­i­cle

An­dre Iguo­dala (9) of the War­riors tan­gles with the Rock­ets’ P.J. Tucker af­ter a free throw in Game 2, which Houston dom­i­nated 127-105 to even the se­ries and raise the ten­sion level.

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