NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

Fred Faour: D'Antoni, Rockets in uncharted territory for Game 7

Mike D'Antoni probably won't have Chris Paul tonight, but he has a chance. Rockets.com

It all comes down to one game. 

The Rockets got off to a hot start, but withered in the second half, falling to the Warriors 115-86 Saturday night.

The end result is a Game 7 Monday night at Toyota Center with a spot in the NBA Finals on the line. This is why the Rockets got home court -- for this game. 

Regardless of what happens, it has been a remarkable ride. The Rockets have had an amazing run, and if you had said before the season started they would host a Game 7 with a trip to the Finals on the line, anyone would have taken it.

The scene in the building should be insane. The Warriors are six point favorites to end the Rockets season, presumably because Chris Paul is unlikely to play. In the Warriors' three wins, all the games were blowouts. The Rockets won Game 2 in a rout, then gutted it out with tough efforts in Games 4 and 5. 

To win Game 7, they will need a similar effort. Strong defense, a big game from the supporting cast and some clutch plays down the stretch. Without Paul, they can still win. But it will take their best effort of the series. 

Make no mistake, the Warriors are favored for a reason. But if the Rockets can play their A game and keep it close, the Warriors have proven vulnerable in the tight games. 

They key might be what Mike D'Antoni comes up with. By now, both teams know what the other will do and it will likely come down to execution. If D'Antoni can create some wrinkles, it might make the difference. This is uncharted territory for D'Antoni, whose other conference finals appearances resulted in a five-game loss to the Spurs and a six-game loss to the Mavericks more than 10 years ago in Phoenix.

Under Steve Kerr, the Warriors have gone to Game 7s twice, both in 2016. They beat the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, then lost to the Cavs in the Finals. So the experience edge goes to Kerr and the Warriors. But since Kevin Durant arrived, this is the first time the Warriors have been pushed beyond five games.

As a sports fan, this is all you can ask for. One game, the best against the best.

For a shot at a title.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Houston now focused on postseason

Altuve and Correa homer, Astros drop final regular-season game

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With no playoff impact at stake if the Astros won or lost the game, Houston took Sunday's final regular-season game as a chance to get their lineup a few more at-bats before shifting focus to Tuesday's first game of the post-season. Here is a quick recap of the game against the Rangers:

Final Score: Rangers 8, Astros 4.

Record: 29-31, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Wes Benjamin (2-1, 4.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Chase De Jong (0-1, 14.73 ERA).

Houston's main bats get a final tune-up

Knowing they'd only have a couple of at-bats to work with, some of Houston's big bats took advantage, starting with Jose Altuve. He crushed a pitch in the top of the first, a solo homer to put the Astros in front 1-0. After the Rangers tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second, Altuve started the third with a walk before moving to third base on a Michael Brantley single, which improved Brantley's season average to .300.

Aledmys Diaz would pick up the RBI on a groundout to score Altuve, putting Houston back in front 2-1. In Correa's last at-bat in the top of the fourth, he extended the lead to 3-1 with a solo home run of his own.

Rangers hand Astros a loss to end the regular season

After getting the early run against Chase De Jong, the Rangers would put together a big inning against him in the fourth. After two one-out singles, Rougned Odor would give Texas their first lead of the day on a three-run homer to make it 4-3.

De Jong would continue to struggle in the inning, getting just one more out while loading the bases, prompting a move to the bullpen to bring in Nivaldo Rodriguez to try and eat up more innings. The Rangers greeted him with a two-RBI single to extend their lead to 6-3 before ending the fourth. Odor would hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, a solo shot to make it a four-run lead at 7-3.

Rodriguez allowed another run in the bottom of the seventh, making it 8-3. Diaz, who drove in a run earlier, would account for another RBI in the top of the eighth, getting Houston's third solo homer of the day. That would make it an 8-4 game, which would go final as the Rangers would win the regular season's last game.

Up Next: Houston's first game of the playoffs will be on Tuesday, with the start time and opponent TBD while the rest of today's games wrap up, and the schedule is announced. Regardless, the Astros are expected to begin that best-of-three series with Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome