The Golden State Warriors are a win away from advancing beyond the Western Conference Finals, and they’ll have a good chance to punch their ticket to the 2015 NBA Finals when they host the Houston Rockets in Game 5. After losing for the first time this series in Game 4, Stephen Curry and Co. are expected to close things out on Wednesday night.
The Warriors have been the NBA’s best team all season long, and they’ve continued that into the playoffs. Winning a league-high 67 games in the regular season, Golden State went 11-2 in the postseason before losing Game 4 on Monday night. But a return to home, where the Warriors have gone 45-3 this season, could spell the end for the Rockets' comeback hopes.
It won’t be easy for Houston to pull off the upset, considering their win in Game 4 was their first victory against Golden State this year in eight tries. Their only chance might be to get a subpar performance from Curry, who didn’t play like the NBA MVP in the last game. In 31 minutes, the point guard shot 38.9 percent from the field, and his 23 points were his lowest total of the series. In the first three games, Curry averaged 35.7 points per game on 61.3 percent shooting.
Curry’s 31 minutes were his lowest total of any playoff game, after he left Game 4 because of a fall he took when trying to block a shot from Trevor Ariza. While the fall looked harsh, Curry returned to the contest the following quarter, and he’ll be in the lineup for Game 5.
Steph Curry, with a shooting sleeve with elbow pad on right arm, says he's sore from the fall but "good to go," will "play normal minutes."
â€” Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) May 27, 2015
MVP runner-up James Harden has been nearly as good as Curry, and he outperformed him in Houston’s one victory. Scoring 45 points on 13-of-22 shooting, Harden will need another big game for the Rockets to extend the series.
Houston couldn’t miss from the floor on Monday, hitting nearly 57 percent of their field goals, including 17 of 32 attempts from three-point range. The Rockets set an NBA record in the regular season by making 11.4 three-pointers per game, but they averaged just 6.7 threes in the first three games of the series. Golden State ranked fifth-best in the regular season, limiting opponents to shooting 33.7 percent from distance.
Josh Smith and Trevor Ariza combined to make six of their 11 three-point attempts, scoring 37 total points in Monday's win. In the previous two games, they scored 50 total points and made five of 16 shots from behind the arc.
Dwight Howard will play for Houston after there was some speculation that he could be suspended for Game 5. He picked up a flagrant foul-1 in Game 4, but it won’t be upgraded to a flagrant-2.
The winner of the series will go on to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, who swept the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals. Golden State would be favored over Cleveland, but Houston likely find themselves as the underdog.
Start Time: 9 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Point Spread: Warriors by 10 points
Over/Under: 217 points
Prediction: Golden State over Houston, 107-101