Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry, pictured after making a basket against the New Orleans Pelicans during Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on May 8, 2018 in Oakland, California, is better than anyone on the Houston Rockets. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets believe they can beat the Golden State Warriors. They have the NBA’s best record and the likely regular-season MVP. They have home-court advantage in the Western Conference Finals and are even favored to win Game 1.

All of that, however, probably won’t be enough for them to get by Golden State.

The defending champions have dominated the West over the last four years, reaching the NBA Finals in every season. It’s hard to believe that anyone will prevent them from winning a third title during that span, and that includes the league-leader in wins.

Here are three reasons why Golden State will defeat Houston in the conference finals:

Stephen Curry is healthy

Houston’s best hope hinged on the fact that Curry might not be close to 100 percent in the Western Conference Finals. Curry suffered a sprained MCL on March 23, just like he did two years ago when he seemed to be affected by the injury in the NBA Finals. But while the point guard only took two weeks off in 2016, he rested for nearly six weeks this time around. The two-time MVP looked like his old self when he got back on the court in Game 2 of the second round, scoring 28 points in 27 minutes. Curry is probably Golden State’s most important player, and the team is nearly unbeatable when both he and Durant are healthy.

Golden State might have earned the No.1 seed if Curry didn’t miss a bulk of the season with injuries. The Warriors are 44-11 when Curry plays.

Golden State has the two best players

LeBron James is the best player in the NBA. Durant and Curry are second and third on the list. Sure, they are technically subjective rankings, but it’d be difficult to make a case against that order. As terrific as James Harden has been in the regular season—he’s about to get his third top-two MVP finish in four years—he simply hasn’t gotten the job done when it matters most. That includes his inexplicably bad Game 6 performance when the Rockets were eliminated by the Kawhi Leonard-less Spurs in last year’s second round. Chris Paul is probably the NBA’s second-best point guard, but he’s a tier below Curry, who’s won two MVP awards since 2015.

The Warriors were vulnerable in their first two trips to the NBA Finals. That changed when they signed Durant, with whom they’ve gone 24-3 in the playoffs.

The Warriors have four Hall of Famers

Maybe the gap separating the Harden-Paul backcourt and the Durant-Curry pairing isn’t exactly enormous. What about the difference in the teams' third and fourth options? Golden State undoubtedly has a sizeable advantage with Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in the starting lineup. Clint Capela seems to get better every night and Eric Gordon is one of the NBA’s best sixth men, but they are not the All-Stars that the Warriors can throw at you when their MVPs are on the bench. It might also be a problem for Houston that Green had maybe his best playoff series ever last round and Thompson is making threes at a career-high rate.

Green will prove to be a difficult matchup for Capela on both ends of the floor. Thompson might be one of the five best shooters in NBA history, while Gordon has shot worse than the league-average from three-point range this year.