Harden and Paul need to drive their side on

Rockets To Turn Screw In Western Conference Finals

The Houston Rockets proved their post-season by levelling the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors with a brilliant performance on the road.

Mike D’Antoni’s men were rocked by the Warriors’ fast start to the game, trailing 12-0 in the early stages of the contest at Oracle Arena. However, the visitors were able to rally to take a lead into the break as James Harden found his from distance.

Like all true champions Golden State issued a response themselves to pull ahead once again as Steph Curry matched the performance on his counterpart, seemingly nailing every shot from the perimeter.

The counterpunch from Steve Kerr’s side would have been enough to floor most of the sides in the NBA. However, Houston were able to pick themselves off the mat as Paul inspired his team forward to drag them back into the contest.

Golden State have been renowned for their composure in their recent run of success. On this occasion Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Curry lacked their usual ability in the clutch, despite the latter receiving a great look on a three-pointer to tie the game in the final second.

The series is now level heading into game five and a return to the Toyota Center. Houston have two home games left to secure a Finals berth and will be determined not to allow the Warriors to break back at them.

Their defensive performance was outstanding and they cannot afford to let their standards slip in their bid to reach the Finals for the first time since their last NBA title in 1995.

Harden and Paul need to drive their side on

Houston Rockets

The Rockets have been overwhelmed by the potency of the Warriors in the past. However, this Houston side is different to the ones of old, displaying resilience to fight back twice in the series. After losing the opener they were able to rebound with a fine performance in game two. Golden State dominated game three and it appeared to be going the same away in the last match.

However, D’Antoni’s men were able to rally themselves twice in the game. Golden State’s hot start put them in trouble from the off, putting the home fans in the frenzy to raise the pressure. The Rockets were able to find a rhythm and Harden began to nail his shots from distance to reduce the deficit. Houston turned the tables in the second quarter to take the lead into the break, scoring 34 points.

The Warriors hit back in the third with a similar display to the Rockets’ second-quarter performance. Paul was determined that his side would not be staring down the prospect of heading 3-1 down in the series. He took command of the offense and found his accuracy. Paul made 10 of his 20 attempts from the field, including five of his nine three-pointers, scoring 27 points in the process. The 32-year-old needed to lead the way as Harden was not quite at his best, despite notching 30 points. Eric Gordon was clutch late in the game, but also had his issues from the field, making four of his 14 shots.

Houston’s defensive capabilities in the clutch were vital, which was a surprise for a team not known for their stoic tendencies. It seemed every player on the court came to the fore at least once to make a crucial block or steal in the closing stages, keeping the Warriors at bay. They will need to carry that attitude forward into game five and beyond to reach the Finals.

Golden State Warriors

The Warriors will feel that they have let an opportunity slip through their fingers. Kerr’s men were in command of the contest twice in the 48 minutes, but were unable to close out the victory. A win would have put them in position to close out the series and reach their fourth-straight Finals.

However, they not have the challenge of raising their game on the road once again to stave off Houston’s best attempt to turn the screw. Golden State are known for their ability to rise to the occasion in clutch moments. However, they were unable to capitalise at the key points of the contest to see off the Rockets, allowing the visitors to respond twice in the match.

Encouragingly for the Warriors, Curry was once again on form from the perimeter. The 30-year-old led the way for his side, scoring 28 points in his time on the court. His string of three-pointers in the third quarter appeared to be pulling his team away from the Rockets. However, Curry lost his rhythm in the fourth and was uncharacteristically unable to sink a three in the final second. The point guard found the space he was looking for, but could only hit the rim.

Durant had a fast start to the series, although his form has been indifferent of late. It would be impossible to maintain that level of excellence and he still notched 27 points. However, he spent 43 minutes on the court and made only nine of his 24 attempts from the field. Thompson was off-the-boil, displaying his recent inconsistencies. The rest of the side are not doing a great deal to ease the pressure on their two superstars. Houston’s defensive play was impressive in the clutch, but the Warriors need to figure out a way for their key men to find space to dictate game five.

Breakdown

Houston will be on a high after their win on the road and will feel confident in their offense against the Warriors’ defense that has been suspect at times. The encouraging prospect of their victory in game four was that Harden did not have to be at the peak of his powers, while even the rest of the side were not flawless from the field.

Their defensive display has to be a foundation of seizing the initiative in the series. Durant and Curry will come at them hard in game five, but as long as Harden and Paul remain on song then Houston have the firepower to match them score-for-score. Back the Rockets to secure the win at odds of -105   with 888Sport, while take them with the spread at -3.5 at +138 .

Tips Summary

Houston Rockets To Beat Golden State Warriors Game Five
Thursday 24th May 2018 21:00 ET (Friday 25th May 2018 02:00 BST)
Odds: -105

Take Houston Rockets -3.5 Spread
Thursday 24th May 2018 21:00 ET (Friday 25th May 2018 02:00 BST)
Odds: +138

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