Warriors return to Finals as Rockets go ice-cold in Game 7

Warriors return to Finals as Rockets go ice-cold in Game 7

Warriors return to Finals as Rockets go ice-cold in Game 7

With their backs up against the wall, many expected the Golden State Warriors to come out firing against the Houston Rockets in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.

Paul, who injured his leg in the fourth quarter of Houston's Game 5 win on Thursday, was a game-time decision on Monday, but the Rockets but the Rockets reportedly concluded that he just couldn't play through the injury.

Without Paul in Game 6, the Rockets fell 115-86 to the Warriors. Klay Thompson led the scoring with 35.

He mentioned that the assessment wasn't gamesmanship or an attempt to be coy and that they'd be more direct about Paul's status the moment they have more clarity.

With Paul wearing warm-ups and watching from the bench, the Rockets roared out to a 17-point lead after the first quarter and led by 10 at halftime.

Meanwhile, the Warriors came out cold on offense. Harden finished with 32 points, six rebounds and six assists but was only 12-of-29 from the floor and 2-of-13 on 3s.

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Their big three will have to show up if they want to go into Houston and win the conference title for a fourth consecutive season. It will be a summer of what-could-have-been for the Rockets, who couldn't finish off the Warriors without Paul after putting them on the ropes.

ESPN matched its highest-rated National Basketball Association game ever with a 9.1 metered market rating for the Cleveland Cavaliers victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals, according to Nielsen. That just means James Harden will have to heighten his game to a level he's never reached especially on a stage like this.

So much riding on one game, which goes beyond which team reaches The Finals and which one reaches for the golf clubs.

According to oddsmakers, the Warriors are a 6-point favorite to win on the moneyline.

Paul's teammate James Harden was diagnosed with a Grade 2 hamstring strain earlier this season after suffering the injury on New Year's Eve. But when you have a Warriors' team that dominates the third quarter plus a Houston Rockets that reacts in frustration and loses control to allow a butt-whooping, you get angry and mad.

The Warriors held no such pre-camp huddle - champions have what others want - yet knew that once the Rockets added Paul, Houston would be their toughest test since Durant signed up. "So you take him away from them, it's a huge loss for them", Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. With a trip to the Finals on the line, that's not good enough.

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