HOUSTON — There is something appropriate about the Houston Rockets‘ championship aspirations hinging upon the availability of guard Chris Paul.
His right hamstring strain could not only shift the balance of the Western Conference Finals Martin Kaut Blackhawks Jersey , it might impact which team hoists the Larry O’Brien Trophy at the end of the NBA Finals and this postseason marred by injuries.
Paul, acquired by the Rockets last offseason to provide the backcourt depth required to challenge the reigning champion Golden State Warriors, departed with 22.4 seconds remaining in Houston’s 98-94 win in Game 5 at Toyota Center and sat out Golden State’s 115-86 win in Game 6 at Oracle Arena.
With Game 7 set for Monday at Toyota Center, Paul was listed as questionable by Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, who described the rehab process as going good on Sunday.
According to D’Antoni, Paul had yet to test the hamstring and has only received treatment.
Team doctors will re-evaluate Paul on Monday, with the decision on his availability to be determined by tipoff. The Rockets raced to a 17-point lead in the first quarter of Game 6 only to run out of steam without Paul present to alleviate the pressure on fellow guards James Harden and Eric Gordon. Houston produced a paltry 25 points in the second half of their 115-86 setback.
“The bottom line is we can’t turn it over and we need to do a better job,” D’Antoni said of the Rockets’ 21 turnovers in Game 6, with Harden (nine) and Gordon (five) responsible for two-thirds of that total. “But we knew this was hard. They’re champs. They were going to come back fighting and they did their part.
“I think the turnovers got them (the Warriors) going. And then once you get them going and they get out of the box, and we didn’t communicate real well two or three times, and then they just got on a roll. If you get these guys on a roll then they can hurt you. And they did.”
The Warriors have never lacked confidence in this series, even while falling into a 3-2 deficit. However http://www.giantsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-cody-latimer-jersey , their decisive victory in Game 6 served to reinforce the reality of what happens when they are at their best, especially with the Rockets short-handed missing such a significant piece.
Golden State has survived without veteran swingman Andre Iguodala, who has missed the last three games of the series and is questionable for the finale with a left lateral leg contusion. Center Kevon Looney (sore left toe) is also questionable, but the Warriors remain undeterred.
“I feel like we’re the best team in the world and the most fun team to watch when we’re pushing that ball and getting defensive stops, making the simple play,” said Warriors guard Klay Thompson, who scored a game-high 35 points while sinking nine 3-pointers.
“We’ve got too much talent not just to hit singles like coach (Steve Kerr) always says and trust the next man ahead of us because it will end up working in our favor most of the time.”
Shooting 49.4 percent from the floor, including 16 of 38 on 3-pointers while producing 26 assists on 43 field goals, the Warriors again featured the offense that ran roughshod over the NBA. When the Warriors get rolling, the only thing that appears capable of slowing their progress is their own complacency.
“I thought we could have gotten this done earlier,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “I think in Game 4 we kind of gave the game away, and in Game 5 I think we gave the game away. But nonetheless http://www.chiefsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-armani-watts-jersey , we know how good of a ballclub they are, and we knew that it wasn’t going to be easy.
“So you never want to go to Game 7, but when you’re down 3-2, you definitely want to do.”
After Game 6, D’Antoni revisited a moment from the offseason when the team convened in the Bahamas. He asked, rhetorically, if the Rockets would take a Game 7 on their home court against the Warriors and, in a heartbeat, D’Antoni acknowledged the benefit of that scenario.
Despite their injury concerns and even against the significant odds of defeating Golden State a fourth time, the Rockets have the Warriors right where they want them. Finishing the series with a victory won’t be easy, but it will be made easier hosting that showdown in Houston.
“We’ve got a whole city behind us and they are as loyal as they come,” Harden said. “Game 7 in H-town. Let’s get it.”
Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri hasn’t forgotten the first time he met Nick Nurse.
It was 1995 and Ujiri http://www.coltsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-kemoko-turay-jersey , now president of the Toronto Raptors, was playing for the Derby Storm of the British Basketball League. Nurse was coach of the rival Birmingham Bullets. Not yet 30, Nurse had already been on the bench for six years, quickly establishing himself as a coach on the rise.
”His teams were tough,” Ujiri said Thursday as the Raptors officially introduced Nurse as their coach. ”There was always something about the Birmingham team that was different from the whole league. People talked about them that way.”
More than two decades on from that initial introduction, Ujiri is hoping Nurse has what it takes to turn Toronto into the talk of the NBA.
The ninth head coach in Raptors history, Nurse replaces his former boss, Dwane Casey – under whom he spent the past five seasons as a Toronto assistant. Casey was fired after the Raptors were swept out of the second round of this year’s playoffs by Cleveland, their third straight playoff defeat at the hands of LeBron James and the Cavs.
Ujiri called Nurse ”everything you want in a candidate” and said his new coach, the first he has hired as an NBA executive, is someone who ”thinks the game differently.”
”He was outstanding,” Ujiri said. ”He really came out on top. Trying new stuff Andrei Svechnikov Jersey , being innovative, is who Nick is. You can tell he’s a tactician who really thinks the game.”
Nurse called it ”a long month” of waiting for a decision following Casey’s dismissal but said he understood why Ujiri needed to take his time.
”Even though I’ve been across the gym from him for five years, there’s a lot of detail to go through,” Nurse said.
Nurse also gave credit to Casey, who was hired as Detroit’s head coach this week.
”We shared a lot of winning together,” Nurse said. ”He’s a competitive guy, a great professional. I learned a lot from him. You can’t take away the five years we shared.”
Toronto went 59-23 this season, the best record in the Eastern Conference and second-best in the NBA behind Houston. Nurse was in charge of the offense, led by All-Star guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. He also engineered a successful overhaul of the game plan before last season as Toronto put increased emphasis on ball movement and 3-point shooting.
For the coming season, Nurse said he wants to inject more defensive creativity ”so we can try to be ready for more things in the playoffs.”
Rex Kalamian, a Raptors assistant alongside Nurse last season, is expected to join the Los Angeles Clippers Hernan Perez Milwaukee Brewers Jersey , leaving Nurse multiple spots to fill on his staff. Nurse said Thursday he has a good idea of what he’s looking for.
”I think it’s really important that we get an experienced staff,” he said. ”Guys that have been head coaches at some level is important to me. It’s good to know what it’s like to be the decision maker.”
There’s also the possibility of new players, with Ujiri acknowledging Toronto has ”work to do” with its roster.
Nurse graduated from Northern Iowa and got his first head coaching position at Grand View College when he was only 23. He spent more than a decade in Europe and was an assistant coach for Britain at the 2012 London Olympics. A past G League coach of the year, he’s the only coach to lead two teams to an NBA G League Championship, winning with Iowa in 2011 and Rio Grande in 2013.
Nurse’s career has seen its share of stops and opponents, but he still recalls facing Ujiri while with Birmingham.
”I remember,” Nurse said, smiling. ”He played really hard.”
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