Going into last night’s game, I honestly said this game-7 in Houston could go either way. I was at 50-50. Leading up to game time, news broke that Chris Paul would not be playing in this critical game due to injury. Once I heard that news I put the Rockets chances of winning the game at about 30%-70%. Without Paul, I believed the Rockets really had no chance.
The Rockets jumped out to a nice lead early on in the game behind hot shooting from guard Eric Gordon. Clint Capela also showed up big for the Rockets early on. Clay Thompson got himself into early foul trouble in the 1st quarter. He had 3 fouls and was headed to the bench until the 3rd quarter. Kevin Durant couldn’t hit the side of a barn. Steph Curry was so-so. Draymond Green wasn’t doing much. And most importantly, James Harden had not really got into his rhythm yet. Surely that would change as the game went along, and when it did, the Rockets would be in great shape right? The Rockets had to be feeling pretty good about themselves going into the locker room with an 11-point lead over the Warriors. Even though they should’ve been up by more, an 11-point lead was looking pretty good at the half……. Then the 3rd quarter happened. I don’t know what the Warriors players and coaches do in the locker room at the half, but whatever it is, they have a way of coming out and owning the 3rd quarter. This was not just a one game thing for the Warriors. A 3rd quarter outburst has pretty much been the norm for this team. The Warriors outscored Houston 33-15 in the 3rd quarter last night. That’s a plus 18 in one quarter of basketball. Behind hot shooting from Curry, Thompson and Durant, the Warriors erased the 11-point halftime deficit and put themselves up by 7. The 12 minute stretch was a shock to the fans inside the Toyota Center. It was also a shock to the Rockets players. A shock that I believe they never really recovered from. The 4th quarter remained close, but I never felt like the Rockets were going to get over the hump……and they didn’t. Golden State took game-7 in Houston’s house 101-92.
James Harden finished the game with 32 points. Eric Gordon had 23 but most of that damage was done in the first half. and PJ Tucker had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Rockets. The Warriors were once again led by Kevin Durant and his 34 points. Steph Curry had 27. Clay Thompson dropped 19. And Draymond Green finished the game with 13 rebounds and 10 points for the Warriors.
I like to try to get hype for the NBA Finals. But if I’m keeping it real, it’s getting harder and harder to get hype for a movie I’ve seen before. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing at all against the Warriors or the Cavs……I’m just tired of seeing the two teams face off in the NBA Finals YEAR. AFTER. YEAR. Unless you’re a Cavs or Warriors fan, I doubt that you’re really hype for this same movie again either. Why don’t you two take a year off and give somebody else a chance! Anyway, we have a Warriors-Cavs NBA Finals again. I like the Warriors in 6. The only reason I say 6 is because the NBA will not allow a finals series to be a sweep or even end in 5 games. That type of thing would be very bad for ratings and the league itself. With the assistance of the refs, Cleveland will get two games in this series. Warriors in 6. Sorry Bron, not this year.
Is this really about to happen, or is this just another tease? Both favorite teams to reach the NBA finals this season, have their backs against the wall as they face an elimination game on their home courts. Cleveland put itself in this position in game-5 up in Beantown Wednesday night, and Golden State just did the same thing to themselves last night when they took an “L” in Houston. Are we going to have a Boston-Houston NBA finals this year. Marking the first time since 2014 that the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavs haven’t met in the finals, or is all of this just a tease?
Once again, Warriors guard Andre Igouldala’s absence seemed to play a huge part in this game. Especially when the second unit was out there. Igouldala has been a stabilizing presence and a key defensive piece for the Warriors throughout these playoffs. In another tight game, where I believe Iggy’s presence out there would’ve made a difference, the Houston Rockets pulled out a 98-94 victory at home, and put themselves one game away from reaching the NBA Finals for the first time since 1995.
The Rockets were led by Eric Gordon who dropped 24. Chris Paul had 20 and James Harden had 19. Clint Capela finally showed up and dropped in a double-double (14 pts. 12 reb.). Kevin Durant had 29 for the Warriors, in a losing effort. Klay Thompson had 23 and Steph Curry scored 22 points. The issue with Golden State, is an issue I’ve never seen out of this team before. Down the stretch when the game’s on the line, none of their stars seem to want the ball. KD is out there basically doing everything in his power to make sure that he doesn’t have to take the last clutch shot. Curry, Draymond, and Klay Thompson seem to disappear at clutch time also. There is no logical explanation as to why Jordan Bell was the person who’s taking a late-game shot when you have Curry, Thompson, Green, and freakin’ Kevin Durant in the game! In a game of this magnitude! There is no excuse for something like this. Golden State had better find their heart, and do it fast. If they don’t, they’re done. Houston is feeling more and more confident with every game that passes, and they’re going to be looking to take the Warriors out of here…..in their own house…….a thing the Rockets have done before, so I’m sure they’re feeling like they can do again. Here are the highlights from Game-5:
Video Courtesy: MLG Highlights
Did you watch the game last night? Did you see the faces of the Warriors players as Steph Curry’s last second shot and hope for overtime fell harmlessly short off the front of the rim? I did. The Golden State Warriors and every person in the crowd at Oracle Arena last night looked stunned. I did also. Earlier in the game I was tweeting (@kblack_yb932) about how this series wasn’t living up to the hype I thought the series would have. And how every game has been a blowout, and this one will be too. Of course, the moment I tweet that, we end up getting the best game of the series. Goes to show how much I know.
Early on, I felt that Golden State was going to cruise to a victory, then go down to Houston and finish the Rockets off in game 5. Everything seemed to be leaning in that direction. Paul’s shot was off and he was clearly frustrated. Harden was out there looking like he was scared. And Steph Curry went old school “NBA Jam- He’s on fire!” on the Rockets asses in the 3rd quarter. That’s usually the formula for a win for Golden State against the Rockets. Something unexpected happened though. I like to believe that the Rockets were pulling a Muhammad Ali “rope-a-dope” move. Let your opponent punch themselves tired, then start wailing on them late in the bout when they’re too tired to properly defend themselves. Houston made a remarkable run, led by Harden and Paul. The Warriors fought back to make this game as close as it was late in the 4th, but the Rockets held on for the “W” and just shifted the whole narrative of this series. Going home down 3-1 would’ve given the Rockets a lot of motivation to just quit and start talking about what pieces they needed to add to get better next season. But that victory last night in Golden State’s house changed everything. Houston believes they can beat Golden State in a seven game series. They seriously believe it too. You know what? They might not be wrong! Time will tell. Game-5 in Houston is going to be BIG!
James Harden’s 30 points and Chris Paul’s 27 led the way for the Rockets. Eric Gordon helped out with 14. Clint Capela had 8 points and 13 rebounds, but he has not been as dominant in this series as he has been in others. At times I forgot that Capela was even out there. He’s going to need to have more of an impact in this series if Houston hopes to pull off this upset. Steph Cury and Kevin Durant led the scoring for Golden State with 28, and 27 respectively. Draymond Green was two assist shy of dropping another triple-double (13 reb, 11 pts. 8 reb.), but it was clear as day that Andre Igoulda, who sat out the game with an injury, presence was missed. On the defensive and offensive end. Hell, he was missed simply as a stable force out there when the Warriors needed it. It’s crazy to think of how much impact Andre Igouldala’s absence had in this game. But he was definitely missed last night. Check out some of the highlights from game-4 below:
Video Courtesy: MLG Highlights
Road. Home. It’s starting to seem like no matter where Golden State plays a basketball game at, they seem to have the advantage. Playing at home is not even really an advantage for teams playing the Warriors anymore. The Houston crowd got into the game early, and remained loud throughout most of the game. It didn’t really seem to matter much. At this point, I can’t see how any team in the NBA will beat the Golden State Warriors in a seven game series.
This was a very good and competitive game. The final score may tell a different story, but this was a pretty good game. One of the most competitive games I’ve seen in the NBA playoffs this year……..for about three quarters and some change. The Rockets went blow for blow with the defending champs early on, but Golden State has a way of wearing a team down and ultimately beating them into submission. That’s exactly what they did to the Rockets last night. Houston was in a good position going into the half. The game was tied up. But Golden State wore them down in the 3rd quarter. Mostly because Houston got very little help from their bench, while Golden State managed to get the most out of their bench players while the starters rested. Even then, there was always at least one starter on the floor with the bench players. To make a long story short, the Warriors are probably too deep for anyone to beat them in a seven game series. I don’t doubt that a team can get one game against the Warriors. Hell, I predict the Rockets will get two. But in the long run, the Warriors have too many players that can do too many things. A team that leans on one or two players as heavily as the Rockets lean on Chris Paul and James Harden seem to have very little chance against this team. Harden was clearly winded as it got later and later into the game. Harden did a lot of that to himself though. Too much holding the ball and trying to make every basket scored go through him. It’s time to use Chris Paul for what you got him for….the primary ball handler. That saves Harden energy if he can just spot up and shoot and not have to worry about a defender putting a body on him as he brings the ball up court, then dribbles until he finds a shot that he likes, then drives to the bucket where he will be met and pounded by the Warriors bigs. He’s using up too much energy. Energy he will need late in the game.
Harden led the way for Houston with 41 pts. Chris Paul added 23 and 11 ast. Eric Gordon had 15 and Clint Capela had 12 pts. That was pretty much it for the home team last night. The Warriors were led by Kevin Durant who dropped in 37 pts. Klay Thompson getting hot is always a recipe for disaster for opposing teams. That happened last night. Klay Thompson found his shot and added 28 pts. Steph Curry had 18 pts and 8ast. And Nick “Swaggy P.” Young added 9 points off the bench.
Harden has to find a way to do his damage without needing to have the ball in his hands and dribbling around for 22 seconds. If Harden continues to try to do everything himself, this will be a short series. I expect Houston to bounce back in game-2 though. Heading into Golden State down 0-2 will be like walking the Green Mile. DEAD TEAM WALKING