The Golden State Warriors defeated the Houston Rockets, 118-113, on Friday evening to clinch a contentious Western Conference semifinal collection many noticed as the de facto N.B.A. finals.
The Warriors, who performed with out its injured star Kevin Durant, persevered on the highway to shut out a tightly contested collection, 4 video games to 2. In doing so, Golden State stored alive its dream of successful three straight N.B.A. championships — and its fourth in 5 years.
Stephen Curry, after going scoreless for the Warriors in the first half, erupted for 33 factors in the second, and Klay Thompson was terrific all through, ending with 27 factors whereas taking pictures 7-of-13 from Three-point vary — together with one which basically sealed the win in the last minute. The Splash Brothers, as the two are recognized, got here by means of when it mattered most.
James Harden had 35 factors in the loss for Houston, and Chris Paul added 27 factors after struggling for a lot of the collection. But that was not sufficient.
The Warriors, the prime seed in the West, will face the Denver Nuggets or the Portland Trail Blazers in the convention finals. The Nuggets and Blazers are tied at three video games apiece in their semifinal collection, with Game 7 scheduled for Sunday in Denver.
No matter which staff emerges, it’s broadly thought that the Warriors, in beating the Rockets, have dislodged their solely true impediment to successful one more championship. None of the video games in their collection was determined by greater than six factors.
The Warriors haven’t typically been underestimated since they started their run of dominance. But it was unclear how they might cope with out Durant, who had been a very outsize presence in these playoffs, averaging 34.2 factors, 5.2 rebounds and four.9 assists per sport whereas taking pictures 51.Three p.c from the subject.
Late in the third quarter of Wednesday’s Game 5, Durant strained his proper calf after trying a soar shot, and he instantly left for the locker room. The Warriors surged to a pivotal win with out him, then stored their momentum going in Houston on Friday.
The Warriors have mentioned that Durant, who was named the most respected participant of the final two N.B.A. finals, shall be re-evaluated subsequent week, nevertheless it appears unlikely that he shall be able to return in time for the begin of the convention finals on Tuesday.
For Houston, the loss was the newest blow to its efforts to topple the defending champions and win the franchise’s first N.B.A. title since 1995. Last season, the Rockets stretched the Warriors to the restrict in the convention finals, dropping the collection in seven video games.
After Durant went down, the Rockets appeared to have the Warriors on the ropes once more. But Houston couldn’t capitalize behind Harden, its high-octane guard. Harden, a favourite to repeat as the N.B.A.’s most respected participant, dominated numerous opponents this season and annoyed the Warriors by regularly drawing fouls on Three-point pictures.
Golden State tried to restrict his effectiveness by throwing a number of defenders at him. Harden however was averaging 34.eight factors by means of the first 5 video games of the collection.
But even that was not sufficient in opposition to the Warriors, who finally imposed their will, as they’ve completed repeatedly the final 5 seasons.