The road to try and accomplish the impossible continues for the Houston Rockets, now “only” 1-3 behind the Golden State Warriors in the conference finals, hoping that Stephen Curry keeps up his previous game form while James Harden does the same.
The Rockets were very close in both losses at the Oracle Arena, including being one possession away from maybe winning the game, but then Harden turned the ball over to secure the loss. He followed that up with an awful game 3 performance, but came firing out of the gates in game 4, scoring 45 points in one of the most efficient shooting displays in postseason history.
Curry on the other hand was going through a rough night. Not just his shooting (just 7-of-18) but his bad landing that could have ended up a lot worse that took him out for a few minutes (locker room examinations) that grabbed most of the headlines. Klay Thompson did have a good shooting day but it didn’t matter. The Warriors were behind by 23 points at the end of the first quarter, and never got closer than 8 points.
Another moment that could have changed game 5 was Dwight Howard hitting Andrew Bogut in the face. In the game, it resulted with a call of a flagrant 1 foul. The Warriors were hoping the league changes it into a flagrant 2, but Rod Thorn said the league agreed with the game officials and saw no reason to change the call. Bogut starting it all and Howard retaliating probably helped them come to that decision, although Warriors fans and conspiracy theory fans will say the league is trying to keep this a close series.
Josh Smith shooting 7-of-8 from the field isn’t going to happen again (probably) but the Rockets need that kind of accuracy from him, and especially from him, once again. With Terrence Jones looking quite ill equipped to handle the physical moments of this postseason, Smith needs to be on the floor as much as possible. It might come with some free throw misses and intentional hacking, but it’s better with him on the floor than without.
The main thing here is whether or not the Rockets managed to shake something up inside the Warrior’s hivebrain and throw them off their game. The best way to judge that will be to see whether or not the Rockets are able to grab the lead right away, despite the daunting arena they’ll be playing in. The Warriors have lost just three games in their last 48 at home, and the Rockets haven’t won there since December 2013.
As good as Harden can be, it’s a lot more up to Curry and the way the Warriors defend than what Houston can do. The Warriors are a better team with who right now seems like the better leading man. If they’re as good as they’ve seemed to be throughout this postseason, the loss in game 4 was just a glitch they’ll quickly recover from, like they did from two losses against Memphis, the only team to beat them at home in this postseason.