The Golden State Warriors will look to regain the edge when they host the Houston Rockets in Game 5 of the Western Conference semi-finals.
The Warriors won the opening two games in Oakland to gain a 2-0 lead in their NBA Playoff Series. They kept James Harden’s impact limited, and the Rockets looked to be out. Kevin Durant was on fire, and it seemed as though the Warriors had one step in the conference finals. But the series went to Houston, and things changed. The Rockets won both the home games to level the series at 2-2.
Durant has been great in those games as well, but his teammates have failed to step up. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have been far from their best, and Durant has had to carry the offensive load. Curry had a miserable Game 3 when he scored just 17 points. His shot was not falling, and he missed some easy layups as well. He played better in Game 4 when he scored 30 points and had eight assists.
Thompson needs to find his feet as well. He has scored just 25 points in the last two games combined. His poor shooting has been a significant reason why. Thompson was 5 of 15 from the field in Game 4. Defensively, he was not at his best either. Harden had the better of him and lured him into the infamous step-back three-pointers quite easily. Thompson and the Warriors, in general, have to improve their shooting. They are shooting 34.5% from beyond the arc, which is way off from their regular season mark of 40.1%.
Meanwhile, the Rockets have impressed hugely. Harden is looking great, and he has scored 79 points in the last two games. Despite his eye problem, he has looked sharp and aggressive. The Rockets have adopted a sensible approach, and it was visible in Game 4. They dominated in rebounds and attempted to slow the pace of the game. Houston shot 34% from beyond the arc in Game 4, compared to 24.2% from the Warriors.
Eric Gordon has been an unsung hero, and he has outplayed Thompson in the series so far. Gordon is averaging 23 points this series, and he has scored at an efficient percentage. P. J. Tucker has also impressed, especially on the defensive end. He has often guarded Durant, and his rebounding has been useful as well. Chris Paul can arguably step up a bit more, but the Rockets have managed thus far. Clint Capela needs to get going, and he will provide a different dimension to Houston’s play.
Warriors vs Rockets Prediction
Despite Houston’s consecutive wins, Warriors will be the favorites on their home floor. Curry and Thompson should find their feet, and Durant will continue his fantastic form. Steve Kerr was quietly confident despite losing Game 4. The Rockets will provide a better account of themselves in Oakland, but the Warriors should have enough to take the lead in the series.
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