Even without Stephen Curry, this was always how the Warriors-Rockets series was going to end. It was the only appropriate way for this maddeningly gutless Houston team to go out—without a fight, and not much silver lining to take from it. Golden State blew out Houston 114-81 to win their first-round series in five games and advance to the Western Conference semifinals.
The Rockets’ box score says it all. James Harden had 35 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists and shot 12-for-23 from the field. All Rockets players not named James Harden shot a combined 19-for-73.
Come summer, the Rockets will likely look very different. Dwight Howard is all but certain to be gone, and Daryl Morey will have to take a hard look at some of the role players. This roster has a handful of promising young prospects (K.J. McDaniels, Montrezl Harrell, Clint Capela), but Corey Brewer and Trevor Ariza have been largely awful after being key pieces of last year’s Western Conference Finals run. Houston will also have a new coach, maybe Jeff Van Gundy, in place in the coming weeks.
As for the Warriors, they’re waiting on the Clippers-Trail Blazers series to be decided. Portland’s Wednesday win put them up 3-2, and it seems inevitable that they’ll take one of the next two against a Clippers team without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
This is where things get interesting. Depending on Curry’s status (he was ruled out at least two weeks initially, meaning it’s possible he misses the first four games of the next round, maybe more), the Blazers could have an outside chance at making it a series if Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum can knock down shots and Mason Plumlee continues his solid playoff performance as a facilitator.
Whoever they play in the second round, Golden State has to root for the Blazers-Clippers series to go the distance, to buy an extra day for Curry to rehab. It could be the difference between him missing three games in the series or four.