Houston’s biggest problem is the Golden State Warriors!!! Houston’s other problem is that their entire game is based on isolation (ISO) play. Both James Harden and Chris Paul dominate the ball and everyone else stands at the 3 point line. That method of play works perfectly fine during the regular season but when they face the Warriors who have perfected the art of total team play, they are simply over matched.
First order of business is to congratulate the Warriors who played the 4th quarter of Game 5 and all of Game 6 without one of their key All-Stars, Kevin Durant (KD), and this entire series without another All-Star, DeMarcus Cousins (Boogie). With their Core Four (Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguadala) and their Strength in Numbers bench, they kept the team in the game in the first half (57-57) even though Steph was scoreless and had committed three fouls. What transpired in the second half of Game 6 was beautiful basketball at both ends of the court by the entire Warriors team. They out-scored the Rockets 36-26 in the 4th quarter crunch time even though the Rockets were playing for their Playoff lives. We saw the 2 time MVP and 3 time World Champion Steph Curry come alive and score an astounding 33 points in the second half with 23 in the critical 4th quarter. Klay scored 27 with 21 in the first half, Andre scored 17 with 5-8 from the 3 point line, and Draymond scored 8 but had 7 assists, 10 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block.
The Strength in Numbers bench:
Kevon Looney had 14 points with 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 huge block with the game on the line.
Shaun Livingston had 11 points on 4-6 including 1 monster dunk.
Jordan Bell, who hadn’t seen the court in the Playoffs, had 4 points on 2 huge dunks and 2 rebounds in 10 minutes.
Jonas Jerebko had 2 points, 1 rebound and 2 assists in 12 minutes.
Quinn Cook had 2 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal in 15 huge minutes while Steph sat on the bench with 3 quick fouls in the 1st half.
The Strength in Numbers bench scored 33 points but more importantly played great at both ends of the court. In many ways, the bench was the MVP but in reality, the entire team including Steve Kerr was the MVP.
Steve Kerr is a genius when it comes to basketball (Hear that, Kyrie?). When KD went down, he knew he couldn’t rely solely on the Core Four to all play 40+ minutes so he went back to the basic principles that made the Warriors 3 time World Champions… Strength in Numbers team play!!! The so called expert analysts were saying that the Warriors simply can’t win without KD. Since KD joined the team, the Warriors have an astounding 35-4 record when KD doesn’t play. Simply put, this is the reason that they continue to be the Kings in the Game of Thrones.
I’m certainly not saying that the Warriors are better without KD. They are a much better team with him, period. With the promising news that KD’s calf strain is relatively minor, there is a good possibility that he’ll be able to play again within the next week or two. The same can be said about Boogie and Damien Jones. Damien has been out since the beginning of the year with a torn pectoral but is now cleared to play and practicing with the team in 3-on-3 drills. Boogie’s recovery from a torn quad has been amazingly swift and he may be available for the Western Conference Finals. This is especially good news as Denver’s Nikola Jokic has been a beast. But, Boogie has handled him superbly with his own big body. Portland’s big guy, Enes Kanter has also been playing well but Boogie has his number as well. This doesn’t bode well for either Denver or Portland.
Congratulations to the entire Warrior’s organization for keeping a great team together in a time where all other teams are shuffling their personnel and salary caps to try to de-throne them. The Rockets are openly obsessed with beating the Warriors and have made huge decisions in trying to reach their goal. Although they are a very good team, they have failed in their mission.
Follows are tweets by prominent NBA personnel congratulating the Warriors:
LeBron James: Never underestimate the heart of a Champion.
Magic Johnson: Steph Curry is not only one of the greatest shooters we’ve ever seen, he is one of the greatest clutch players the game has ever seen. 33 points in the second half to lead his Warriors over the Houston Rockets…Incredible! Golden State showed why they are one of the greatest and most entertaining teams of all time. The splash brothers were splendid and Draymond Green just showed the world again why he is one of the best all-around players in all of basketball.
Daryl Morey (GM of the Rockets): You come at the Kings, you best not miss. Congratulations.
Morey’s tweet pretty much sums up the Rocket’s futile chase of the Warriors…. “You best not miss”. The Rocket’s entire philosophy is to play ISO ball with two of the very best ISO players in the world, James Harden and Chris Paul. The other players simply camp out at the 3 point line. They best not miss!!! In their do-or-die Game 6, they chose to put the entire game plan on the shoulders of Harden and Paul. Both of these great players did have good games (Harden – 35 points and Paul – 27 points). But their other starters had only 34 points and their entire bench had only 17 points. It really boiled down to 2 Rockets playing against 11 Warriors. I’ll take Strength in Numbers any day of the week.
My opinion only, but I believe that the Rocket’s downfall began when they traded 8 players for Chris Paul, then a year later gave him a huge contract even though he is old and injury prone. The trade netted the Clippers Patrick Beverly, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and a 1st round pick which turned out to be a very good player, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Rockets also gave an average player, Clint Capela a huge contract. Now, they are on the hook to pay a 34 year old Chris Paul $160,000, James Harden $153,000, and Clint Capela over $87,000. This leaves very little $$$ to attract star free agents to their team. They are stuck with the players they have who have proven that they can’t beat the Warriors. My belief only, but if they had kept Beverly, Williams, and Harrell, the Rockets would have been a much more dangerous team. Just as Steve Kerr is a genius coach, the Clippers special advisor, Jerry West, is also a genius who masterminded this monster trade and has put the Clippers in a position to challenge the Warriors going forward. They have great young players with a low overall salary so have the ammunition to attract the star free agents. Remember that West played a key role in putting the Warriors team together.
I’ll let Chris Paul’s and James Harden’s actions speak for themselves. Last year, they stated emphatically that they would have beaten the Warriors had Paul not gotten injured. They never mention that had Andre Iguadala not gotten injured, the Warriors would have beaten them in 5 games. This year, the Warriors beat them with both KD and Boogie injured. No injury excuses please… Injuries are part of the game and teams have to play with the next-man-up philosophy. Both, Harden and Paul have perfected the art of flopping and drawing fouls. Their tactics didn’t work in Game 6 as the Refs called the game as they saw it. Both Harden and Paul walked off the court immediately after the game without congratulating the Warriors… poor losers…. After the game, Harden stated that “They know exactly what they need to do to beat the Warriors”. How about playing team ball and making free throws to start with…. Later, we all found out that Steph Curry reserved the Toyota Center on Thursday night to get some practice in. Chris Paul found out about this, went to the Center and chased Steph off the court preventing him from practicing. Steph tried to compromise with Paul and asked if he can shoot on one end of the court while Paul practiced on the other. Paul would have none of that and chased Steph off the court. After the win, Steph was heard yelling “Chase me off the court again, boy!!!”. We now know a bit more about the character of both Harden and Paul. Now, they both have much more time to make more State Farm commercials… Or, just maybe, State Farm is looking for a new pair of stars for their commercials…
The state of the Warriors look as bright as ever while the state of the Rockets look as bleak as ever… Houston, we have a BIG problem!!!