For the second year in a row, the Golden State ended Houston’s playoff dreams on the Rockets’ home court.
Except this one is going to hurt the Rockets more, this is the year where the breaks went their way. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson limped into Game 1, Kevin Durant could not play Game 6, DeMarcus Cousins was in a suit the entire series. The Rockets were at full strength and had their chances.
Yet for the fourth time in five years, Golden State eliminated the Rockets from the playoffs.
“This one is going to leave a mark. This one hurts,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said.
This time the Warriors did it despite Stephen Curry scoring zero first-half points.
Yet the game was tied at the half anyway, and in the second half Curry dropped 33 as the Warriors pick-and-rolled the Rockets to death — the Warriors ran the Curry/Draymond Green pick-and-roll 10 times in the fourth quarter and scored 19 points on the play. Houston had no answers. The Rockets would trap Curry, he would find a rolling Green, and it was all downhill from there for the Warriors. Golden State made plays down the stretch as champions do, including Klay Thompson who finished with 27 points and hit 7 threes.
Golden State won Game 6 118-113 to take the series 4-2.
The Warriors will face the winner of Denver and Portland — they play in a Game 7 Sunday — starting Tuesday night in Oakland.
That is series the Warriors should get Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins back during.
The Rockets had their chance in the first half, when Curry was scoreless. Yet it was the strong play of the Golden State bench that kept the Warriors close, combined with 21 points from Klay Thompson in the half (he finished with 27 including 7 threes).
Curry came alive in the second half and was 9-of-15 including 4-of-9 from three.
Down the stretch, the Rockets did what they could defensively to keep Curry from beating them, but that just opened the door for everyone else.
James Harden played well, scored 35 (he led the last three games in scoring), but could not take over the game and his teammates did not respond the way Curry’s did. The Rockets have some off-season soul searching to do about their roster and style of play, and what it will take to win a title in future years. It’s a difficult question that could lead to difficult choices.
The Warriors will have a difficult summer, too, but theirs will not start for a while longer.