Rockets and Warriors advance to Western Conference Finals
CP3’s big night leads Houston
For much of his career, Chris Paul has been regarded by many fans as a player unable to ‘win when it matters most’.
He held the record for most NBA playoff games played (86) without reaching a conference final.
His 41 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and zero turnovers in Game 5 helped end his unwanted streak and quieten his doubters as he led the Rockets on a night James Harden shot just seven-for-22 (18 points).
Paul registered his playoff career high for points in the clincher, 20 coming in the fourth quarter alone as he kept the Utah Jazz at bay.
He scored 12 straight points for Houston midway through the fourth, doing all he could to make it past the second round for the first time in his career.
PJ Tucker hit five three’s while Clint Capela swatted another five Jazz shots in the 112-102 win, but it was Paul’s historic performance that guided the Rockets.
He became the first player to record 40 points, 10 assists and zero turnovers in a playoff game since turnovers became an official stat in 1977/78.
Donovan Mitchell was valiant in the loss, scoring 22 of his 24 points in the third quarter as the Jazz turned the game on its head and went into the final quarter up by three.
But when Mitchell had to leave the game with roughly seven minutes remaining after bumping knees with Harden, Utah’s chances were all but extinguished.
Alec Burks was the surprise of the game, filling in for injured Jazz points Ricky Rubio and Dante Exum and finishing with 22 points.
The Rockets advance to their second conference finals since 2015 and will look to reach the NBA Finals for the first time since the 1994/95 season.
Warriors reach Western Conference Finals for fourth straight season
Another year, another conference finals.
That’s what life is for the Golden State Warriors who boast six current and former All-Stars and two former MVPs in Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.
The talent laden Warriors advanced to their franchise record fourth consecutive conference finals on the back of 28 points from Curry and 24 from Durant, with the result rarely in doubt.
A 25-4 run midway through the third quarter broke the game open and put the result to bed; Golden State’s shooting just too much for the Pelicans to handle.
The visitors tried gallantly in what would be the last quarter of their season, trimming the margin to just 10 but it wasn’t enough.
Anthony Davis finished with a monstrous 34 points and 19 rebounds in the loss, while Jrue Holiday poured in 27 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.
The 113-104 win was the Warrior’s 15th straight home playoff win, tying the Chicago Bulls record that spanned 1990 and 1991.
Golden State will now face Houston, pitting the Western Conference’s first and second seeds in what could be the best playoff series in years.
Will the Rockets knock off arguably the best team ever and end the Warriors dominance, or will the reigning champions advance to their fourth straight NBA Finals?
Only time will tell, but what awaits should be a spectacular matchup featuring blistering perimeter shooting and superb defence on both sides.