After the first two games of the Western Conference Finals, the Rockets appeared to have exorcised the demons that haunted them through the first four and a half games against the Clippers. However, those demons seemed to have come back to haunt them one more time after tonight’s miserable Game 3 performance at home, their first game at home since Game 7 against LA.
From the get go things looked dire for a Houston team in desperate need of a win. The Rockets only lead came with 9:18 left in the 1st quarter, then Stephen Curry hit his first three of the night and it was all downhill from there, ending in a 115-80 crushing defeat.
If you were to sum up the night in two videos, it would be this:
For everything that the Warriors did well this game, the Rockets did poorly. Golden State dominated the boards, out-rebounding Houston 60-39. They out-shot Houston by 11.7% from the field, including 11 made threes and moved the ball about as perfectly as you could hope for if your Steve Kerr.
No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit, and despite coming back from a 3-1 deficit last series, things look grim for the Rockets heading into Game 4. It’s not so much that the shots weren’t available, but the Rockets just seemed wholly incapable of knocking them down when they absolutely needed to.
May 23, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots during the third quarter against the Houston Rockets in game three of the Western Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
What should we look for heading into Game 4?
If there is one thing this Houston team has proven that it’s capable of during the playoffs, it’s taking it one game at a time. This has been the mantra of the team, especially as it re surged from a daunting deficit during the last series. With Game 4 on Monday I don’t expect this loss to be hanging over their heads, but unlike the Clippers who let us back in it, the Warriors have their foots on the gas pedal and show absolutely no signs of letting up.
Stephen Curry came into Houston and did exactly what Stephen Curry does. He shot the lights out.
Stephen Curry has made 91% of the 3-pointers he's attempted from the left corner this postseason.
— Synergy Sports Tech (@SynergySST) May 24, 2015
No, forget shooting the lights out. That doesn’t begin to do justice to what Curry has done during these playoffs. There isn’t an expression to describe what Curry has been doing. Well before this game was even over, Curry broke Reggie Miller’s record for the most three-pointers made during the playoffs (58), and he did so in NINE less games than Miller en route to a 40 point game where he was 7/9 from deep.
James Harden, on the other hand, simply never arrived to Toyota Center. While playing 32 minutes, Harden scored 17 points on 3/16 shooting with a mere 4 assists and 3 rebounds. I promised myself I would pay no attention to Lil B’s “curse”…
Go warriors @warriors and let James harden no he doing the Lil B cooking dance if he doing that flickin wrist or whipping he mark – Lil B
— Lil B From The Pack (@LILBTHEBASEDGOD) May 21, 2015
but whatever happened to the Rockets tonight sure felt like some sort of supernatural beat down.
Look, Curry is going to put up numbers night in and night out. You really can only hope to slow him down, but if the Rockets show up to Game 4 with the kind of apathy that they played with tonight then it is going to be a long 48 minutes and an even longer vacation. If the Rockets have any chance of fighting to see another day, several things will need to occur:
- The James Harden we saw in Game 2 is going to need to reappear. He doesn’t need to score 40 points, but if Harden has anything less than 25 points, 9+ assists and 5+ boards, forget about a Game 5.
- Dwight Howard needs to utterly dominate the paint. There is no reason why Festus Ezeli should be outplaying Howard down low, and there is definitely no reason why Curry should ever get an offensive board by posting up Howard.
- Trevor Ariza has got to pick his game up. After Game 1 it looked like Ariza might be ready to have one of the best playoff series of his career, but over the course of these past two games he’s simply looked worn out and has been beaten on both ends of the court. That can’t happen if the Rockets have any hope of extending this series.
- Someone needs to slow Steph Curry down. He’s an amazing shooter, probably the best this game has ever seen, but there’s no excuse for allowing him to go 7/9 from behind the arc. What adjustments will Kevin McHale make heading into Game 4 in an attempt to slowdown this years MVP?
The series isn’t (officially) over, and after last series I won’t write the Rockets off until it’s truly official, but my hope in this team repeating what the 1994-95 Rockets team did is fading quickly. With less than 48 hours to put this game behind them, will the Rockets be able to bounce back in Game 4 to send the series back to Oakland, or will Golden State be able to put the finishing blows on the Rockets season?
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