NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
Fred Faour: D'Antoni, Rockets in uncharted territory for Game 7
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.