The Warriors saved their season in dramatic fashion in Game 6 against the Rockets, falling behind by 17 points in the 1st quarter, and then winning by 29 points. It started with defense in the second half, and then the 3-point barrage began, led by the Splash Brothers.
If Golden State wins this series, Game 6 will be remembered as the Klay Thompson game. He scored 35 points, making nine three-pointers; it was reminiscent of his scintillating Game 6 performance two years ago against Oklahoma City when he scored 41 points and made a record 11 three-pointers.
The one surprise to me, and I don’t want to make too much of this, was the largely invisible performance from Kevin Durant. He was a perfect 37-for-37 from the line in the series through five games, and then missed four (10-of-14) free throws. He started slow, shooting 1-of-6, and finished just 6-of-17 with a quiet 23 points, seven rebounds and four assists. He played the fewest minutes of the Big 4, so he should be rested for Game 7.
The three takeaways here:
- The interior defense of Jordan Bell and Draymond Green was enormous in the 2nd half. Whether it was altering shots or challenging layups, the Rockets had to work harder than usual attacking the rim after their three-pointers weren’t falling. They led 74-70 and missed two corner three-pointers that would have extended the lead. They never led again.
- Which makes you wonder … did Houston’s legs get heavy in the 2nd half? The pace was quick, and here’s how their scoring by quarters went: 39, 22, 16, 9. They ran out of gas. Houston basically played seven guys until garbage time. And considering how much of a non-factor Luc Mbah a Moute has become, it was six guys. Capela is a rim-runner and PJ Tucker is a spot-up shooter, leaving the creating offense load to James Harden (24 shots), Trevor Ariza (18 shots) and Eric Gordon (12 shots). That trio also had to defend three of the best offensive players in the NBA. It was too much to ask on the road.
- Can the Rockets win Game 7 without Chris Paul? I’d give them a 25 percent chance. If they start as strong as they did in Game 6, Golden State won’t have the crowd behind them, and it’ll be a difficult uphill climb especially with Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry feeling the burden of advancing to the Finals. It feels like if Golden State’s Big 3 gets to the 80-point mark, the Warriors won’t lose.