NBA News

Houston Rockets Look To Avoid Elimination for 5th Time This Post Season

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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 NBA Playoffs: Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors

Western Conference Finals: Game 5

Wed May 27, 9:00 PM EST – ESPN, C+D

ORACLE Arena – Oakland, CA

Story Lines:

How Is Curry’s Health?

While the Golden State doctors ensured Stephen Curry passed all the tests, I found this interesting as earlier this year Landry Fields had a similar fall (though his required stitches) and he passed the concussion test on the night of the game. It was the next day that he showed concussion symptoms, which has me wondering whether they checked Curry yesterday to confirm he still had no ill effects. Regardless, even if he still passes the tests you have to wonder how he’s going to be feeling after that horrible fall. His wrist bent back, he hit his shoulder, arm, back and head so it’s highly possible he’ll be pretty sore this evening. And, if that’s the case it will bode well for Houston to take advantage of the Warriors. Should the Rockets win and push the series back to Houston it might actually start getting into the Warriors heads.

Steph Curry takes a HARD fall

— Sports Vines (@TheSportsVines) May 26, 2015

Looking at the Fields fall, though it was bad, Curry’s fall looked worse and as mentioned he passed the concussion tests on the night of the injury but failed the next day and was out for 2 weeks.  Of note: the protocol to return is very difficult and has several levels to pass before clearance is given.

Howard Flagrant NOT Upgraded:

The big news last night was Rod Thorn, President of NBA Operations decided not to upgrade the Dwight Howard Flagrant 1 to a Flagrant 2 which would have immediately rendered him out for Game 5. Some media analysts felt it should have been a Flagrant 2 based on Howard connecting with Andrew Bogut‘s face. Thorn though specified the fact Bogut was holding onto Howard’s arm which was why they didn’t deem it as severe as Al Horford since his intent was to injure Matthew Dellavedova. Furthermore, no one seems to have discussed the fact Bogut pushed Howard hard before he grabbed his arm to restrain him from running up court.

Dwight Howard with a HUGE elbow. Only a flagrant one.

— Sports Vines (@TheSportsVines) May 26, 2015

The other factor in Howard’s favor was he didn’t hit Bogut with an open fist nor did he turn around. Comparing the slap to Bogut’s face versus J.R. Smith‘s closed fist on Jae Crowder isn’t even in the same ball park, especially since Smith wasn’t being held.  Everyone will have their opinion, but the fact most of these Flagrant 2’s are coming to opponent’s of the Cavaliers makes for interesting supposition. I think that isn’t a coincidence as it stands to reason the league wants LeBron James back in the finals for the sponsorship dollars and television ratings. Hey, don’t shoot the messenger.

The Historic Number Series:

The Rockets have already overcome odds by winning the Western Conference Semi Finals series after trailing by 3 games to 1 and became only the 9th team in history to do it. Now they face even stiffer odds having to accomplish something no team has ever done by coming back from being down 3 games to none.

They got the first game out of the way and in the process set several records:

  • Rockets scored 45 points in the first quarter; their highest scoring quarter this season and of the playoffs.
  • James Harden scored 45 points for a playoff scoring high. To date there have been 4 forty point games in the post season: Harden has 2 and Curry has 2.
  • Rockets and Warriors combined to attempt 78 three point shots, the most ever in a playoff game.
  • The teams also combined to make 37 three point shots, also the most ever in a playoff game.
  • If the Rockets are to be successful they have steep odds since they’ll need to win twice at Oracle a building the Warriors are 45-3 having lost just twice in the regular season (one game in overtime to the Bulls, the other to the Spurs in regulation) and once to Memphis in the post season.
  • Rockets have won 4 games facing elimination this post season.

As per the three pointers falling, though this Harden shot didn’t count to end the second quarter, this shot by James Harden epitomizes how the ball was falling on Monday night:

James Harden from DEEP

— Sports Vines (@TheSportsVines) May 26, 2015

Does Fatigue Become a Factor:

Sure the Rockets dispensed of Dallas in 5 games, but the 7 game series versus L.A. did take a toll and they launched into the Warriors series on one day rest. Could this start to take a toll as the Rockets continue to play with a shortened bench, and even the reserves Kevin McHale is playing (other than Corey Brewer and Terrence Jones) aren’t getting heavy minutes. Case in point Pablo Prigioni played 17 minutes and Clint Capela played just over 4 minutes. Meanwhile the Warriors have a very deep bench with solid producers like Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala, Festus Ezeli, Leandro Barbosa and have barely utilized David Lee or Justin Holiday in this series.

Next: Limping Forward?