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Preview: Warriors and Rockets return to Oracle for Game 5

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There’s been blood, bruises, bricks and buckets in this hotly contested series. Who will take this pivotal postseason contest?

Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors - Game Five Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

What’s that you say? The Houston Rockets weren’t swept after falling behind 0-2 to the world champion Golden State Warriors? In fact, they’ve tied the series up and are coming back to Oakland for Game 5? Well then, sound the trumpets and raise the banners, it’s time to defend Warriors Ground!

Game Details

Who: Golden State Warriors vs Houston Rockets (Series tied 2-2)

When: Wednesday, May 8, 2019 at 7:30 pm

Where: Oracle Arena — Oakland, CA

TV: TNT

Our best friends in blogging: The Dream Shake

How did we get here?

The champs outhustled the Rockets in the first two games, muscling their way to a +16 rebounding advantage in Oakland, and bullied the Rockets into crying for referee assistance. They also accidentally turned James Harden’s eye into material for an SNL sketch.

How macabre.

The series shifted to Houston, where the Rockets began ratcheting up the physicality in front of their thirsty home crowds. The rebounding edge shifted massively in the Rockets favor the next two games, as they took a +27 advantage on the boards behind a monstrous effort from P.J. Tucker.

Tucker’s stocky and springy, a terror on the boards and defensively, and leads a Houston unit of similarly Ninja Turtle bodied marauders in James Harden, Eric Gordon and Chris Paul.

Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets - Game Four
Draymond Green has led the emotional battle against the physical Rockets
Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Rockets pushed the Warriors around in Houston to tie the series up at two games apiece, a physical assertion that got the attention of both Draymond Green and Dubs’ head coach Steve Kerr.

Per Monte Poole for NBC Sports:

“They’ve got a lot of middle linebackers on that team,” coach Steve Kerr said. “They’re sturdy. And we look more like volleyball players, long and lean.”

Aside from Chris Paul, who checks in a 6-foot, 185 pounds, the Rockets are hitting the Warriors with a challenging combination of muscle and hustle. James Harden, 6-5, 220, consistently uses his shoulder and elbows to create space to launch his shots. Eric Gordon -- 6-4, listed at 215, but looks more like 230 -- barrels his way about the court, usually toward the rim.

The leader of the Houston pack, forward PJ Tucker, is a 6-foot-5, 245-pound bundle of muscle and kinetic energy. Six inches shorter than Durant but clearly heavier, Tucker attacks every second as if it might be his last in the NBA.

Also, why did CP3 decide to give Andre Iguodala a move straight from the prison ball handbook?

Both teams are running short rotations and playing their best 5 players major minutes. The Splash Bros haven’t had one of their tag team explosions in a while. James Harden and Kevin Durant are dueling each other to prove which player was being held back the most by Oklahoma City. This could be the last game ever at Oracle Arena.

Playoff basketball doesn’t get much more lit than this. Let’s go Warriors!