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Jazz players hopeful after 2018 playoffs: 'We'll be back'

10 May, 2018, 14:25 | Author: Lora Ball
  • James Harden Donovan Mitchell

You can't take that away from them.

There will be a ton of Hall of Fame talent on the floor when the Warriors and Rockets face off to determine which team will represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals.

Today, however, we received further statistical proof that this Houston Rockets team will be unlike anything the Warriors have seen before.

Houston is a 2-point favorite in Game 1 of the series, which is slated for Monday. But after missing almost six weeks with a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee, Curry clocked in for four games of the second round against the Pelicans. Harden, whose only trip to the Finals came with Oklahoma City in 2012 when the Durant-Russell Westbrook Thunder lost to Miami, had the worst finish of any star player in the 2017 playoffs in the second-round loss to San Antonio.

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He averaged 24.5 in those games (44.1% from three-point range), with none better than his 28-point, eight-assists, seven-rebound outing in Game 5. Before looking ahead to the Western Conference Finals, let's look back at the season series between the two juggernauts (which the Rockets won 2-1).

Along the way came two more meetings between these teams in January, with Golden State winning the first and Houston winning the second.

But how this Houston season will be remembered hinges largely on the outcome of this series. It wasn't until the Warriors were plagued with major injuries towards the end of the regular season that it became clear the Rockets would have the home-court advantage in any potential playoff matchup.

Holiday contributed 27 points and 11 assists, but even with better shooting, New Orleans couldn't stay with deep, score-at-will Golden State.

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"Not at all. Who plays just for that?" Their final two wins were by 25 and 14 points. It's an unwritten rule that closeout games are the most hard to win, and with James Harden under the weather, Chris Paul earned his entire season's pay in Game 5. Having reached the Finals in each of the past three seasons and won two world titles in that span, the Warriors are on the verge of a modern-day dynasty.

The Warriors' 15th straight home play-off win also tied the National Basketball Association record set by the Chicago Bulls in 1990-91. And while the Pelicans were able to rally late in the fourth, it wasn't enough.

The Rockets run a revival of the ultimate two-man show with Chris Paul and James Harden posing as the league's most unexpected - yet lucrative - backcourt. This will be Chris Paul's first-career Conference Finals appearance, so that's (another) interesting storyline to keep an eye out for.

Tucker finished 5 of 7 from behind the arc and helped the Rockets overcome pedestrian efforts from MVP candidate James Harden, who totaled 18 points on 7-of-22 shooting, and Eric Gordon, who missed 6 of 8 shots and had five points. The Rockets are still getting more home games if this series goes 7 games, though.

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