The Golden State Warriors, playing Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals without All-Stars Kevin Durant, went on the road and defeated the Houston Rockets 118-113 to knock them out of the NBA playoffs for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
Klay Thompson and Steph Curry combined for 60 points. Curry scored all 33 of his points in the second half to secure the Warriors another spot in the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors will face the winner of the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trailblazers series.
With Durant sidelined for at least the remainder of the Houston series, it would be up to the Splash Brothers to bust out of their recent shooting funk. In Game 6, the two combined for 19-for-40 from the floor including 11 three-pointers.
Backup center Kevin Looney personified the “next man up” mantra with 14 points and five rebounds for the Warriors. Looney shot 6-for-8 from the field. As expected, Andre Iguodala stepped up with 17 points. Iggy averaged only 5.7 points per game on the season, but the savvy veteran unleashed his biggest scoring output of the 2019 postseason. Draymond Green scored only 8 points, but added 10 rebounds and 7 assists.
Sad Rocket Man
James Harden scored 35 points and Chris Paul added 27 points and 11 rebounds in a losing effort. Despite hosting Game 6 on their own turf, the Rockets were unable to take advantage of a hobbled Warriors squad after Durant went down in Game 5.
“We’ve let a lot of opportunities slip away,” said Harden. “If you don’t take advantage of opportunities you end up on the losing side.”
During the regular season, Harden looked utterly unstoppable. Harden scored 30-plus points for 32-straight games during a torrid scoring streak. Only Wilt Chamberlin had a longer scoring streak in the history of the NBA.
Despite his scoring output, the rest of the Rockets failed to produce any consistency. At the same time, the Rockets had hoped that Carmelo Anthony would finally push the Rockets over the top of the Warriors. Alas, the Rockets realized Melo was a bad fit after only ten games and parted ways with the All-Star.
Splash Brother #1: Curry
Steph Curry struggled in the first half with a 0-for-5 clip. He finished the first half with a donut in the boxscore of a playoff game for the first time in his career.
Curry saved all his offense for the second half of Game 2. He shot 9-for-15 in the third and fourth quarter. Curry scored 23 of his 33 points in the final frame.
“Most of the time he makes these incredible plays,” said head coach Steve Kerr. “And he’s just fearless. And that’s what makes him who he is.”
“It did not surprise me one bit,” said Klay Thompson. “The man is competitor, a champion, and on top of that he just plays with such great heart. He’s our leader.”
Curry finished with a perfect 11-for-11 from the free throw line. He sealed the victory with clutch shooting from the charity stripe.
Splash Brother #2: Thompson
Without Kevin Durant and without a single point from Steph Curry, shooting guard Klay Thompson carried the Warriors in the first half. For a second game in a row, Thompson came out fired up. He finished the first half with 20 points and five three-pointers.
Thompson finished the night with 10-for-20 from the field and seven treys. He also came up with a huge steal late in the game to help lead the Warriors to a series-clinching victory.
For a second game in a row, Thompson scored 27 points. He averaged 21.5 points per game in the regular season. He increased his postseason average to 18.3 points per game.
Prior to Game 6, Thompson had a tough time connecting from downtown. He shot 8-for-26 from beyond the arc in the first five games.
Thompson went 13-for-36 in the opening round against the Clippers, but if you toss out his 32-point performance in Game 4, Thompson shot 7-for-25 from three-point range in the other five games against the Clippers.
“Klay is the greatest shooting guard in the world,” team owner Joe Lacob told reporters after the victory.
Thompson has been rumored to leave the Bay Area and head south to Los Angeles. His father, Mychal Thompson, won an NBA title with Magic Johnson and the Showtime LA Lakers. The elder Thompson would love to see his son also play for in a gold and purple uniform. The LA Clippers, who have two max-contracts available to lure free agents, was another team possibly linked to Thompson.
On Deck: Nugs or Blazers
The Warriors will battle the winner of the Nuggets and Blazers series, which will go the full seven games. The Nuggets host the Blazers for Game 7 in Denver, where they are tough to beat. Including the regular season and the playoffs, the Nugs are 39-9 playing on their home court.
The Warriors will be awaiting to hear from team doctors next week. That’s when they will re-evaluate Kevin Durant’s calf. Durant injured his left calf in the third quarter of Game 5 against the Rockets. Durant hobbled off the court and fans unleashed a collective sigh of relief when they learned it was only a calf strain and not a blown Achilles.
The Warriors won back-to-back titles with Kevin Durant, but they also won one without him back in 2015.
According to the South Point Casino and Sports Book in Las Vegas, the Golden State Warriors are -140 to win the NBA championship.