For the second time in as many games, the Golden State Warriors couldn’t close it out in crunch time. And now, the Houston Rockets are just one win away from the 2018 NBA Finals. But it’s not going to be easy. With 51.7 seconds remaining, point guard Chris Paul would pick up a right hamstring injury. About 30 seconds later, he’d be out of the game. But Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni doesn’t want to worry just yet. Per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon:
“We’ll see [if he can play Game 6 on Saturday]. …but obviously you saw him limp off, and he’s a tough guy. … They’ll do whatever they can do. If he’s there, great. If he isn’t, we have enough guys. … We’ll be all right.”
Without Paul, of course, the outcome result of this series is likely to change dramatically. That said, there’s one very fascinating thing about Houston’s win in Game 5: James Harden didn’t show up. In fact, this arguably goes down as Harden’s worst-ever playoff performance. On Thursday night, he was that bad. Not only did he shoot 5-of-21 from the field, but Harden didn’t convert a single three-point attempt. He took 11 of them. No, that is not a typo. The Houston Rockets were able to hold off the Warriors without Harden playing well at all on the offensive end. That’s sensational.
Now they travel to Oakland for Game 6 on Saturday night. And even if they lose, the Rockets get Game 7 at home. That’s beyond huge. The Rockets needed to win one of their two games in Oakland. They did. Then they needed to take Game 5 at home. They did, and here we are.
Elsewhere, Clint Capela finally did make his presence felt on the boards, hauling in 14 rebounds. The Rockets, just as they did in Game 4, didn’t use more than seven players in this one. Eric Gordon put up 24 points from off the bench. Needless to say, if Paul can’t go on Sunday then Gordon is the man who will take his place. Even crazier? The Rockets shot just 37.2 percent from the field Thursday night. And again, they still won.
Meanwhile, nobody for the Warriors shot particularly well other than Klay Thompson (8-of-14; 4-of-7 from three-point range). And yet, each team had multiple opportunities to put this one away. This was ugly basketball, but at least it was engaging. For the second consecutive game between these two giants, it was contested until the bitter end. We’ll take it, and the Rockets will certainly take the results.
Are we going to get more of the same in Game 6?