A tweet from NBA on TNT’s sideline reporter Ros Gold Onwunde in the aftermath of the Golden State Warriors series clinching 118-113 victory over the Houston Rockets last night eloquently encompasses the tone of the game and even the series.
The conditions were ripe for Houston to take advantage. No Kevin Durant. Stephen Curry, riddled with foul trouble, didn’t score a point in the first half, and the Rockets, just like in Game 5, still blew opportunities.
Some people are afraid to win, even when the opportunity is right there for the taking. Some shrivel, get timid. It’s hard to spot, cuz they might still perform statistically or be super talented but not be able to “Will it”. Responding to the pressure of expectation freezes them— Rosalyn Gold-Onwude (@ROSGO21) May 11, 2019
For all of their braggadocio and tomfoolery sanitized as “gamesmanship,” the Rockets never honestly believed that they could beat the Warriors. The Warriors knew it, and that confidence and will carried them to victory last night. Here are a few takeaways from Game 6.
Game six Klay
Once again, Klay Thompson rolls in to a pivotal game six and delivers. In 40 minutes of action, Thompson scored 27 points. Twenty-one of them carried the Warriors in the first half as Curry was held scoreless and saddled with three fouls. Thompson's five 3-pointers kept the Warriors within striking distance. Thompson’s performance last night was reminiscent of Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals, when he scored 41 points to force a Game 7 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Thompson may not have emulated the production but he had the same mentality and focus to go out there and fight.
“I personally visualized the win,” Thompson said to NBC Sports’ Kerith Burke “Through meditation and focus.”
What helped Thompson was him knowing that he’d have to be in constant movement without Durant being in the lineup and not to mention most of the defensive attention being on Curry. His success in cuts and off ball movement wasn’t the only key that Thompson held in the game. His defense against Chris Paul was also worth noting. While Paul did score 27 points, it wasn’t on Thompson’s watch. In one-on-one matchups, Thompson held Paul to 38 percent shooting and rendered him ineffective during the entire series.
Curry’s epic second half
Saddled with three fouls and held scoreless in the first half, Stephen Curry summoned the will and heart of a champion in the second half.
For most of the series, Curry had to not only fight the pain of his dislocated left middle finger, and a Houston defense that’s smothered him in their “switch everything” scheme, but he also had to fight his chronic habit of getting in foul trouble. For the first half, it seemed as if Curry would be rendered ineffective but just like in game 5, he showed up, showed out and closed. Curry scored 33 points in the second half, shooting 9-15 from the field including 4-9 from deep. Twenty three of those points came in the fourth, due to a series of pick-and-roll situations with Draymond Green.
The Warriors ran the Curry/Green pick and roll 10 times in the fourth quarter, and they scored 8 times for 19 points. The Rockets’ defense elected to trap Curry on screens in the quarter and give up a numbers advantage, and Green made them pay in the paint while Curry made them pay on the perimeter, as he scored two iso buckets on PJ Tucker down the stretch.
Bench,Iguodala steps up.
Andre Iguodala continues to defy father time and last night was just the latest of examples during the playoffs this year. The 35-year-old wing scored 17 points and nabbed a team-high of five steals to go along with two rebounds and three assists. Not to mention five threes that proved to be timely during the game. With 10:22 in the fourth, Iguodala made a three that not only steamed the Warriors but also ended a Houston run.
Meanwhile, the hustle of the Warriors’ bench helped keep the Warriors in the game during the first half. Shaun Livingston, who is contemplating retirement, scored 11 points to help steady the Warriors until Curry’s second half takeover. Kevon Looney was incredible in his minutes-scoring 14 points, snagging 5 rebounds and a block.
On the season, the Warriors ranked 29th in the league in bench scoring, averaging only 29.2 per game. In the playoffs, they are ranked 21st. While their strength isn’t in their scoring, they have more than made up for it with their hustle on the boards and on defense.