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GSoM roundtable Part III: Do the Warriors still make the Finals?

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In the conclusion of our trilogy, the GSoM crew consider whether the Warriors still make the Finals.

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets
Will they get it together?
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday the GSoM crew got together (virtually) and considered the level of panic as the Warriors face elimination, and what counters they can make.

And now for the killer question, do the Warriors still make the Finals?

Daniel: If Andre Iguodala is back, the Warriors are back to normal and will pull off the next 2 games in thrilling contests. If Iguodala is back AND Chris Paul is gimpy or done? The Rockets are getting blown out the next 2 games.

But let’s take a page from the 2016 Cavs book and break Houston’s heart by winning G6 at home and G7 on the road.

Charlie: The Paul injury hurts the Rockets so much . I see the Warriors winning the next two games. If Paul returns for Game 7, I wouldn’t be surprised either way. Warriors in 7.

Nate: I’m gonna keep it totally 100 with y’all. In the immediate aftermath of Game 5, I was bracing for a defeat here and I think I’m more than content with what’s gone on in the Kerr era -- this has been an amazing ride that isn’t yet over. The Warriors have made three straight Finals, won two titles, had a two-time MVP, set a record for wins in a regular season and are very likely going to get to Game 7 in their fourth straight Western Conference Finals. If they fail this year, I’m confident they’ll be driven to get back next year, which might be the motivation they need to stop taking games, quarters, and critical moments off when it counts. So I’ve kinda come to terms with where we’re at already.

But with Paul out in Game 6, I think the Warriors should be able to pull this out even if he comes back in Game 7 at less than 100%. People will throw all kinds of asterisks on that victory, but beating the Warriors in two games by a combined 7 points without Iguodala would’ve also deserved an asterisk for Houston -- that’s just the nature of a sports league that requires teams to play 82 games plus four seven-game series to win a championship. You need some luck every now and then to be consistently successful in the NBA postseason -- that’s what would make the very fact of making the Finals four years straight so impressive.

Patrick: I think it’s 50:50 right now. Paul’s injury is huge, especially if he can’t make it back for Game 7, should the Warriors force one. But all it takes is one game where the insane number of threes Houston shoots actually go down and the Warriors are done. And right now the struggles to execute properly down the stretch are giving me some unpleasant flashbacks. One thing in the Warriors favour is that they’ve been here before. OK, so maybe 51:49 Warriors.

Duby: Nate said there’s no good way to tell this story, but I’m going for it anyways. We went to the elimination game against the Pelicans together — Daniel, Nate, and myself (along with my boy TQ, who many of you would recognize as the guy hitting his free throw shot on the previous GSOM night).

As we rode BART in, there was one dude just completely decked out in Dubs gear. Like, head to toe, matching white Warriors tracksuit, listening to music so loud you can hear it coming out of his ear buds and bobbing.

The three of us are also decked out to a lesser extent, so we start talking to this dude. Eventually “we got this” transitions to discussion of the Rockets (who I thought would be really tough, Daniel called a sweep, Nate just quietly judged all of us)... anyways, on the Rockets, this guy just firmly says ‘nope, not worried.’ And then, he delivered a statement that was just as messed up as it was prophetic; he said “Chris Paul is just a few dribbles away from a hamstring injury.”

It’s a jerk thing to say, but he’s right. The outcome of this series has never been about beating the Rockets, as much as outlasting them - it was always about wearing them down. Looking at the history; the Warriors have proven themselves in the post season. Paul’s post season career has been defined on his inability to remain on the court. Harden’s post season career has been mostly defined by playing poorly in closeout games.

I think the Warriors make it to the Finals. But I’m also realistic enough to admit that the level of assurance I feel would be significantly lower if Chris Paul were still healthy.

Greg: If the Warriors don’t clean up their late game possessions, then no. Rockets are going to the Finals. Turnovers and mental fatigue have really plagued them the last few games. The injury to CP3 throws a very strange wrinkle in this whole series.

Houston has showed tremendous character in late game situations and their on ball defense has been way better than expected. That said, it really simply comes down to which team is able to dictate their own pace and flow of the game. If it favors Houston, Rockets advance. If Dubs can push ball movements and get more guys involved, then they can sway the series and avoid elimination. It’s as simple as just being comfortable in their own style of play.

Brady: Yes. The CP3 injury makes this an easy decision for me, but even without it, my irrational confidence would have said “yes” regardless. Golden State is still the much better team when they play to their best. But they haven’t done that (and Houston deserves credit for forcing that).

But I think they’ll get there.

Tom: I certainly think they can--I fully believe they’ll win Game 6 and then, as I said, anything goes in a Game 7, even on the road. That said, the Warriors need Iguodala back, especially in a potential Game 7, if Paul returns (though one wonders, if he returns, how he’ll play). But with the talent on this team as well as the championship experience (two titles and a 73-9 regular season), I do believe that if the Warriors get it to Game 7, then they will be the team representing the Western Conference in the NBA Finals.

Hugo: I don’t think Chris Paul will be anything close to 100% in Game 7. It’s grimey and terrible, and completely up to luck, but I think that’s the deciding factor. The Warriors probably return to the Finals.

Jannelle: I think they can. They just have to dig deeper than they’ve ever dug to get there. Damn some appropriate fear. They need to play with appropriate and controlled RAGE! They know they had no business losing games 4 and 5. They need to stop playing like they are entitled. Houston is starving. Golden State should be greedy and just as hungry. We will see tonight.