There will be a Game 7. After falling down 17 points in the first half, the Warriors stormed back and punished the Rockets by 29 points. Heading into the final clash, there are several reasons why Houston’s loss has demoralized them going forward:
- James Harden: Are we sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that James Harden is THAT guy? His playoff resume screams just the opposite. In this series, it has been clear the Rockets cannot compete when the game is solely dependent on Harden’s play. Even as he has shown several signs of his unfathomable talent, he has not been able to take over when it needed the most. Game 6 proved once again his constant iso is daunting for Houston’s offense. When they are playing team ball, they can go toe-to-toe with an all-time Golden State team. In a Game 7, however, it is a game of stars. Unless Chris Paul can redefine magic, play, and be at 100%, the fate of the Rockets will be in the hands of The Beard. That is not promising.
- The curious case of Kevin Durant: Does anyone know what is going on with Kevin Durant? In the Warriors near 30-point stomping, Durant was once again all too quiet. At this point, Durant looks to be confused and unsure when it is his turn to actually shoot the basketball. Even Durant’s body language when he is on the line (10-14) is not the “not nice Kevin Durant” many expected. While this may seem like a Warriors’ issue, it is not. Trends do not last forever, especially when it comes to negative trends involving one of the league’s best. Durant is due for a 4th quarter explosion.
- The lack of Chris Paul: The aforementioned injured star’s absence in Game 6 was a chilling tease ahead of Game 7. It has been clear for awhile, Paul is the gut, the heart, and the soul of the Houston Rockets. In Game 6 it was clear no matter how much of a lead the Rockets have, without their motivational rock, they are vulnerable. His raw emotions on the sideline made it clear he wanted it more than any of his teammates actually playing in the game. He is their closer, and it “less likely than likely” he plays in Game 7. Houston’s issues without their point guard were shining brightly in Golden State and should be just as noticeable tomorrow night.
- The Splash Brothers returned: One of the few negatives of Durant joining the Warriors has been the demise of the Splash Brothers duo. In Game 6, they were back and better than ever and looked to just be getting started. Klay Thompson brought out the big punches. Going 9-14 from the 3-point line, Thompson reminded the world, in case they didn’t know, he is also a legitimate superstar. Steph Curry would not let him get too much credit as he poured it on at all of the most opportune times. If this is a snippet of things to come … it is over … for everyone.
- Emotion (confidence, momentum, belief): Ahh, the most invisible, yet important factor of every game, every series, every moment. Coming off two victories where they impressed in money time, Houston came in with all the momentum. This showed up until halftime, then, well, the tornado changed routes. Golden State will be coming into Game 7 off a half where they outscored the Rockets by 39 points. Albeit on the road, come tip-off the more talented team will also have a huge momentum advantage on their side. Houston will have two days to deal with the thought of having the champions down only to let them come back alive. If Game 6’s first half didn’t put the Warriors down, how can the Rockets possibly believe in another do or die situation any lead is safe? Spoiler: they cannot. The what-ifs have already been ingrained in the minds of the Rockets’ roster.
The Golden State Warriors were favored coming into the series, they are favored going into Game 7, and Game 6 should only further that type of thinking. Even at home, it would not make sense for anyone to firmly believe the Rockets will be hosting the NBA Finals come Thursday.
Possible, of course. Likely, no.