Warriors, Rockets one step closer to Conference Finals meeting
Durant’s big day puts Golden State one away from series win
Since KD joined the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 offseason, the Warriors’ deadliest starting lineup has been Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.
Nicknamed the ‘Death Lineup’ for their spectacular shooting and lockdown defence, Warriors coach Steve Kerr decided to start Game 4 against the New Orleans Pelicans with this vaunted lineup which paid immediate dividends.
An 18-4 run to open the game was all the reigning champs needed as they led from start to finish on the back of Kevin Durant’s 39 points, the 2016/17 Finals MVP shooting 15-of-27 from the field.
The Warriors led by 15 after the first quarter and were in cruise control for the rest of the match, adding a 33-19 third quarter for good measure as they ran away with the 118-92 win.
Stephen Curry hit four three-pointers on his way to 23 points while Draymond Green scored only 8 points, but added 9 rebounds, 9 assists and 4 steals.
It was Durant’s big night that led the title favourites who can advance to the Western Conference Finals with a win in Game 5 on Wednesday.
The Pelicans were valiant but the Warriors’ superior talent was just too much as had been expected heading into the series.
Anthony Davis led the line with 26 points and 12 rebounds while Jrue Holiday chipped in 19 points and 7 rebounds.
They’ll need big performances from each player in Game 5 if they’re to avoid elimination and force a Game 6 back home in New Orleans.
Capela holds a block party
Clint Capela has been Houston’s best kept secret for most of this season, his impact being masked by James Harden’s MVP form and the acquisition of former All-Star Chris Paul.
His six blocks (five in the fourth quarter) in the Rockets 100-87 Game 4 win should bring him out of the shadows.
He was key to keeping the Jazz at bay and sending his side home with a chance to clinch the series, adding 12 points and 15 rebounds in arguably his best game of the post-season so far.
Much like the Warriors against the Pelicans, the Rockets deep squad is just too much for the Jazz to handle, as evidenced by Capela and Paul.
Celebrating his 33rd birthday, Paul recorded 27 points and 12 rebounds while MVP candidate Harden added 24 of his own.
Paul’s series high led the Rockets as Harden shot just eight-for-22 from the field and one-for-7 from behind the three-point arc.
Donovan Mitchell responded with 25 points following his disappointing Game 3 performance while Australian fan favourite Joe Ingles added 15 points for Utah.
Barring surprises in Game 5, both Golden State and Houston should face off in the Western Conference Finals, a series that many NBA fans have been wanting since Paul joined the Rockets in the offseason.