Warriors head coach Steve Kerr pulled Kevin Durant aside Thursday night, sharing a story of how Phil Jackson pointedly asked Michael Jordan why he wasn't hitting the open man (John Paxson) during a Bulls playoff game. Now back in Houston, are the Rockets going to secure another win tonight as the smallest of favorites? Eric Gordon is the third double-digit scorer and Clint Capela is grabbing 11.5 rebounds. Houston announced Friday that Paul would miss Game 6 with a hamstring strain, delivering a sizeable blow to their chances of ending the Western Conference Finals in Oakland, California.
The Golden State Warriors insisted they weren't anxious Thursday night when they lost Game 5 to the Houston Rockets and were pushed to the brink of elimination. Five quarters ago, however, the Warriors appeared to be in complete command, having thoroughly outplayed the Rockets through almost four games.
Instead, the Warriors find themselves in a dogfight with a more than game Rockets team, and with a roster that lacks the right depth to face it.
In Game 5, we saw a total shift in bench deployment - David West played almost a full quarter and Quinn Cook was on the floor in crunch time - as well as a continuation of the Warriors' offensive woes, which unmistakenly manifested themselves in the fourth quarter of the team's second straight loss. If he's there (for Game 6), great. On that night, James Harden led the way for Houston with 30 points.
If you've followed FiveThirtyEight's analysis of Golden State this season, you know that the team's occasional sloppiness has been perhaps our biggest concern surrounding the Warriors this year - in part because advanced metrics have suggested they may not be as well-equipped to overcome the turnovers as they have been in the past. The Golden State Warriors have won 17 of their last 24 home games. The victory put the Rockets on the edge of clinching a place in the NBA Finals, with the odds resoundingly against them.
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That might hinge, though, on if the Warriors can execute late-game plays much better in Game 6 than what they have shown in Games 4 and 5.
Thompson strained his left knee in Game 4 on Tuesday when he tumbled to the floor on a drive to the basket in the second quarter.
Included in that scoring output was a shot clock-beating 3-pointer in the fourth quarter.
The Warriors and Rockets were first and second in the National Basketball Association in points per game during the regular season, averaging 113.5 and 112.4, respectively.
This slowed-down pace has disrupted the Warriors, whose 72 shot attempts Thursday night were their lowest of the season.