Warriors vs. Rockets, Game 5 on Thursday night

A lot can change in the course of a few days. He's probably not going to shoot that poorly again, but the real problem with Durant in this series has been how he can bring down the Warriors offense as a whole.

Iguodala hasn't played since Game 3 of the best-of-seven matchup with the Houston Rockets.

Paul is in the conference finals for the first time after failing to advance past the second round in nine previous postseason trips.

A missed Quinn Cook 3 with 42 seconds left.

They failed to execute on all three of them.

Now, maintaining this core next year and beyond will be expensive - an estimated $1 billion (yes, billion with a B) in salary and luxury tax over the next three years - but with the team's new arena, the Chase Center, opening in San Francisco before the 2019-2020 season, the Warriors are in a position to generate the necessary revenue and Lacob has sent out every signal possible to indicate that he will continue to spend on this team, at the very least until they move across the bay.

This is a moment where character is revealed.

In Game 6, the Warriors tried to attack Houston with isolation and a heavy diet of Durant shots.

Klay Thompson edged the Warriors past the Rockets as play resumed, faking his way past Clint Capela.

Yes, you read that right.

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Add in Paul's apparent hamstring injury - and his questionable status for Saturday's Game 6 - and there's no reason to believe this series ended Thursday. Those are effective, Durant is the best scorer on the face of the earth right now, but it takes the Warriors out of their flow and makes them less risky, and less prone to massive runs. They'll need to clean up their play from the other night, and they'll need a fair game called. "We just have to be a little sharper". Why would any team in its right mind let him shoot even more?

This seems like the Game 7 in which we see James Harden go absolutely bonkers and it still not be enough.

But the Rockets also missed a ton of wide-open shots in the first quarter and completely dictated the pace of the contest. Oh, who specializes in advanced statistical analyses and sports projections, is on a stellar 18-12 run with selections involving the Rockets. Live ball turnovers are an accelerant for the Warriors offense.

Houston Rockets guard James Harden, top, battles Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green for a loose ball during the first half in Game 5 of the NBA basketball playoffsWestern Conference finals in Houston, Thursday.

The latter worked. The former was not as successful. A bruised left knee kept Andre Iguodala out for the second straight game, and Kevon Looney started in his place. But the NBA's best third quarter team did it again after trailing by 10 at halftime, and outscored Houston 64-25 in the second half.

Kevin Durant paced the Warriors with 29 points while Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 45 points on 16-of-31 shooting.

Still, the Warriors think they found something to exploit in the Houston attack in Game 5.

"We made way too many mistakes defensively, like we did in Game 3", D'Antoni said of the Game 6 effort. We like the chances of Durant coming out for an incredibly huge game, as he and Thompson share the rock in a GSW win.

Houston must keep the run relatively short - 11-0, 15-3 - and not lose their heads, just keep playing their game.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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