After a truly special season that was arguably the best in franchise history, the Golden State Warriors will be looking to put the finishing touches on their Western Conference conquest when they host the Houston Rockets in a potential close-out Game 5 affair that could instantly launch them into the NBA Finals.
In a season that has seen MVP Stephen Curry miss just two games and a series where—at least up until Game 4’s 128-115 debacle—the Warriors have only seemed to have gotten stronger, both elements were left a bit wanting and off-kilter Monday night.
After suffering a second quarter hip injury and possible concussion, the sharpshooting Curry played just 31 minutes and finished with a series-low 23 points on 7-of-18 shooting, as the Rockets hit the Western Conference champs with a 45-point opening quarter barrage and never let up in keeping their season alive.
With action now returning to Golden State, where the Warriors lost just two games all regular season, Houston will be as hard-pressed to duplicate their sterling Game 4 showing as All-Star guard James Harden tries to keep up his heroic efforts.
With Curry sitting dazed and confused for a fair amount of the evening, Harden riddled the Warriors for a playoff, career-high 45 points, to go along with nine rebounds and five assists.
It was enough to have Houston faithful reminding anyone who would listen that the Rockets bounced back from a 3-1 deficit against the Clippers in the semifinals to even reach this point. But all season long, the top-seeded Warriors and the whimsical Curry have proven themselves to be an altogether different mix.
Winners of 11 of their first 13 in the postseason, Golden State boasts one of the league’s most talented offenses behind Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala. Furthermore, their defense is top-notch, ranking amongst the league’s elite during the regular season.
With Golden State on the verge of earning its first Finals appearance since 1975, the Oracle Arena crowd figures to be me more electric than usual Wednesday night, and it’s certainly reflective in the cost of tickets. In fact, according to SeatSmart, the average ticket price for the potentially series-deciding Game 5 is a whopping $501.46, with a get-in price of $180. Houston Rockets tickets are going quickly for those hoping their team can stretch their season at least one more game and bring the series back to the Toyota Center.
Making the Rockets’ mission all the more difficult is the reality of what could be for Dwight Howard. The All-Star center was assessed a flagrant 1 technical foul for hitting Andrew Bogut with an elbow Monday night and if the league decides to upgrade the infraction to a flagrant 2, Howard could be suspended for Wednesday night’s tip-off. Houston certainly cannot afford that.