The Golden State Warriors stamped their authority on the Western Conference Finals by dominating the Houston Rockets in game three of the series.
The Rockets hit back after their defeat in game one with an emphatic performance at Toyota Center. Questions were asked of Steph Curry after his underwhelming display. However, the two-time MVP silenced his critics with an outstanding display to put the Warriors back in command of the series.
Curry top scored for Golden State with 35 points, finding his form from the field after struggling with a one-in-eight display in his last outing. Worryingly for Houston and the teams remaining in the playoffs, the 30-year-old appears to be back to full fitness, overcoming the MCL injury that knocked him out of the early stages of the post-season.
Houston were rocked by the onslaught from Golden State. Even James Harden could not match the levels of production from Curry and Kevin Durant. Harden and his team-mates made a strong start, but as the Warriors found their rhythm on the court, they were unable to prevent the home side taking the game away from them.
Harden has not quite found his peak form in the Western Finals and will need to elevate his form to prevent Golden State easing their way into the title game. PJ Tucker, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza and Chris Paul also need to respond defensively along with their accuracy from the field.
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The Rockets were dismantled by the Warriors in game three. Once Golden State raised the tempo of the game they found it difficult to compete on the court. The fans inside Oracle Arena created a cauldron of noise, which inspired Golden State to find form from the field to pile on the points. The start of the contest was fairly even, but once the Warriors were allowed to build a lead in the first quarter there was not a response from Houston to attempt to reel them back within striking distance. In the end it was a 31-point defeat, but it certainly felt like more as the Warriors were able to withdraw their key men in the late stage of the fourth quarter.
Harden has been up-and-down in the series, and although he scored 41 points in the opener, it was not a clean performance. He was more efficient in game two as support was forthcoming from his team-mates. However, game three was a complete breakdown in their offensive and defensive play. Harden was accurate in his shooting from the field, but he has not taken his game to the next level where his contemporaries Curry, Durant and LeBron James have done in the past for their sides. A flawless effort in the game four to level the series would be just what Mike D’Antoni’s men require from their All-Star.
Paul has been very underwhelming in the Western Finals. When he arrived it was meant to the acquisition that pushed the Rockets on to compete with the Warriors. Paul has not found that level of form and was slightly off his shooting from distance, making only five out of his 16 attempts from the field. If Paul gets going he can alleviate the pressure on Harden and make life easier for the players around the duo to play supporting roles.
Golden State Warriors
Curry’s struggles was the headline that emerged out of game two as he failed to find his form shooting from the field. However, his response was that of all the greats when criticism comes their way – the 30-year-old put on a clinic from distance. There are few players in the history of the NBA that have better accuracy from the perimeter than the point guard and he proved his quality with an outstanding performance, scoring 35 points on the night.
Curry made 13 of his 23 attempts from the field as he opted for an onslaught approach, nailing the majority of his throws. His three-pointers were on form, scoring from five of his 12 attempts from range. If the 30-year-old is truly back to full fitness then the rest of the sides competing in the post-season have a real challenge on their hands to wrestle crown away from Steve Kerr’s men.
Durant was consistent once again as he did not have to be at the peak of his powers to secure the dominant. It highlights the terrifying depth that the Warriors have at their disposal that they can win a game so comfortably against a talented team without an All-Star operating at his best. Durant notched 25 points, making eight of his 19 attempts from the field. He will have been disappointed with his accuracy and will be vying for an improvement in game four.
Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were solid in their support roles, offering relief when Curry and Durant occasionally missed from the field. However, one of the biggest contributions came off the bench as Quinn Cook made all four his attempts, including two three-pointers. Should the Warriors maintain their high standards across the court then the Rockets will not be able to knock them off course, especially with two matches remaining on home soil.
After putting forward a meek effort in game two, the Warriors found their form and were able to produce the sort of performance that strikes fear into every team in the NBA. There’s not a team in the league that can match them score-for-score when operating at that level in the field. Houston were far from their best and need their key players to come to the fore to get them back on level terms. Harden needs a statement game when he takes over the contest to win it single-handedly.
It’s important for the Rockets and his legacy to shine on the big stage, proving that he can match the displays of Durant and Curry. Whether he can get enough support to pull off the victory is another matter. The Warriors seemed comfortable at home court and with their fans behind them expect Kerr’s men to inch closer towards a fourth-straight Finals appearance. Back Golden State at odds of 1/41.25-4000.25-4.000.25 with BetOnline, while take them on the -10.5 spread at odds of 5/42.25+1251.251.25-0.80 with 888Sport.
Golden State Warriors To Beat Houston Rockets Game Four
Tuesday 22nd May 2018 21:00 ET (Wednesday 23rd May 2018 02:00 ET)
Take Golden State Warriors -10.5 Spread
Tuesday 22nd May 2018 21:00 ET (Wednesday 23rd May 2018 02:00 ET)
Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.
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