The Houston Rockets will attempt to close out the Golden State Warriors on the road without Chris Paul. A win will be a big challenge, but it’s definitely possible.
Chris Paul has been waiting for this moment for his entire basketball career. To be in the Western Conference Finals, up 3-2, with just one win separating him and the NBA Finals.
Paul has been a double-double machine for his entire career. In his early days in New Orleans, Paul quickly established himself as one of the elite point guards in the league. Now with 13 seasons under his belt, Paul has moved up the list of the very best point guards in NBA history.
The only thing holding Chris back is his lack of postseason success.
When Paul played in New Orleans, Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant dominated the western conference. In Los Angeles, either Paul or Blake Griffin suffered an untimely postseason injury seemingly every year. Paul has made the most out of his talent as an individual, but it hasn’t translated into massive team success.
That’s why Houston was the perfect destination for Paul. In the summer of 2017, the Rockets were just a few pieces away from becoming a great team. Paul just so happened to be Houston’s biggest missing piece.
In the regular season and playoffs, the Rockets are 61-12 with Chris Paul on the court. The addition of Paul catapulted Houston from an above average team to a championship contender. Paul will be sorely missed in Game 6, but the Rockets can’t use his absence as an excuse. Mike D’Antoni wants his team to rally and get this win for Chris, via USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick.
“I can only imagine what (Paul) is feeling right now. But he’ll bounce back from this and we’ll get him back. Hopefully the team morale rallies around where we’ll win one for him and get him back, and get him where he wants to go (in the Finals) – where a lot of people want to go, not just him. It’s part of the game. We have to deal with it.”
The formula for winning will still be the same for the Rockets. They have to play tight defense, switch effectively and force Golden State into as many isolations as possible. On offense, Harden and Eric Gordon have to attack early so that there is enough time to swing the ball a few times before the shot clock timer hits zero.
Every player on this team will have to step up to fill the void. Houston also needs a herculean performance from James Harden. The Rockets find themselves in the underdog role once again, but that hasn’t stopped them before.
If Houston can close this series out tonight, Paul will have more time to rest his injured hamstring. The Rockets need him to be as healthy as possible for whichever team comes out of the east. This is our year to win it all.