(Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports via Reuters/Kyle Terada)
1 Steph Curry is back
All the talk on the first two games of this series focussed on how Steph Curry was yet to fire in this series. The two-time MVP was struggling to make his mark on the offensive end, with contributions of only 18 and 16 points. respectively, in the two outings. It looked to be a similar case in Game 3 when at half-time Curry had just nine points to his name, having gone 3 from 11 from the field, including 1 from 7 from behind the arc.
However, in the third term Curry got his mojo back as he doubled his score for the game with 18 points, shooting 7 of 7 from the field and 2 of 2 from 3-point land. He ended up making 11 of his last 13 shots for the game, finishing up with a whopping 35 points. Look out Houston (and Cleveland/Boston), Steph is back.
2 When Paul and Harden struggle, the Rockets struggle
The two stars in the Houston Rockets’ lineup in James Harden and Chris Paul failed to fire in Game 3, ultimately seeing their side falter with them in what was a humiliating 41-point loss. Harden and Paul only combined for just over half of the Rockets’ score of 85 for the match, with the two getting 43 points, which is very modest by their standards, particularly given Harden regularly posts 40-plus points himself.
These two stars are what gets the Rockets’ offense going, and they are the reasons why the Rockets finished as the top seed in the Western Conference this season. But when both fail to fire, the Rockets lose their mojo. A lot of pressure now shifts onto the shoulders of Harden and Paul to get their side back into this series.
3 Golden State have a five-star starting five
The Warriors’ starting five outscored the entire Houston squad in Game 3, with all players hitting double digits in scoring to combine for 93 points. That eclipsed the Rockets’ measly 85 points for the game and goes to show how much of a force the Warriors are when they have their starting lineup playing the way they did on Sunday night.
Their two most dominant stars in Curry and Kevin Durant combined for 60 points while Klay Thompson contributed 13 points and Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green each added ten.
This starting five played with a flare and energy that was unmatchable in tonight’s encounter, with their ball movement and attacking prowess, as well as their persistent ball denial, seeing them dominate the Rockets throughout.
4 Houston’s season is on the line in Game 4
Ever since losing Game 1 of the series at home, the Rockets knew they would need to win one of these first two home games for the Warriors if they were any chance of getting themselves back into this series. And after losing the first Warriors’ home game, all eyes now shift to Game 4 on Tuesday, where the Rockets will need to find a way of pegging the series back to 2-2. That will be easier said than done given Golden State's hot home form in the playoffs across the last two seasons (see point 5).
There's no coming back from 3-1 down against this Warriors outfit, and the Rockets are going to have to do something very special to get themselves out of this hole.
5 Warriors are unbeatable at home in the playoffs
The Warriors are unbeaten at home in these playoffs and in defeating the Rockets on Sunday claimed a 16th consecutive postseason win at Oracle Arena. In doing so they posted an NBA record for most consecutive playoff wins at home, surpassing the Chicago Bulls’ mark of 15.
Thier last postseason loss came in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals when they were beaten by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and they have turned the Oracle into a playoffs fortress ever since. Game 4 is again at Oracle Arena on Tuesday night, and the Rockets have it all to do to deny the Warriors a 17th consecutive postseason win there.
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