Warriors lead 3-2

How the Rockets can still beat the Warriors

How the Rockets can still beat the Warriors
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Falling behind 3-2 in a series when you are the road team is tough. Winning two games in a row against the defending champions is impossible enough, but doing it without homecourt advantage in a possible Game 7 is asking a lot. There's no denying that the Rockets have become the firm underdog in this series heading into Toyota Center on Friday.

However, it's certainly not impossible. In fact, the Cavaliers were down 3-2 when they were going back to Cleveland for Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals. It's been done before. To do it however, the Rockets need to be on their A game and treat Game 6 as the end-all-be-all. To do that, a few things have to happen.


1) Clint Capela has to show up

The Rockets have gotten very little out of Clint Capela in this series. In this series, Capela is averaging 8.6 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 0.6 blocks on 55.1% true shooting. The Rockets have been a negative 13.9 per 100 possessions with Capela on the floor. Draymond Green has virtually took away his lob game and defensively, Capela's been played off the floor.

The best version of the Rockets involves Capela in the floor in crunch time situations. Head coach Mike D'Antoni knows this and it's why he continues to give Capela playing time late in games. Playing P.J. Tucker at center has worked out great, but the Rockets have been their best all season with Clint Capela closing games and being a consistent release valve for the offense.

2) Chris Paul has to score

It sounds like such a dumb, simplistic thing to say, but the Rockets need their 9-time All-Star to play like a 9-time All-Star. Eric Gordon has done a fantastic job at picking up the slack on the offensive end, averaging 22.2 points on 61.0% true shooting. However, there are spots on the floor that Gordon can't get to that Paul can.

Paul has been plenty impactful in this series without the scoring, but the Rockets need every bit of vintage Chris Paul they can get if they want a chance at bringing this series back to Oracle Arena. Playing great defense, facilitating the basketball, getting key deflections, and grabbing offensive rebounds is great but 14.6 points on 53.8% true shooting isn't enough for a star of Paul's caliber. It's possible he's lost a step, but Paul can still create separation for tough mid-range jumpers better than anyone on the Rockets.

3) Houston has to dominate the glass

The reason the Rockets won Games 3 and 4 is simple: they won the rebounding battle. Every game this series, the team with the most rebounds has won the game. Giving extra offensive possessions to the best offensive team of all time doesn't make much sense.

The Rockets had several key moments down the stretch of Game 5 where they could not secure a defensive rebound and it cost them dearly. This series has largely come down to a few possessions every game, which is why having as many as you can benefits the Rockets.

4) James Harden, P.J. Tucker, and Eric Gordon have to continue doing what they're doing

Other than a few possessions here and there, James Harden has largely been fantastic in this series. Averaging 34.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.8 steals on 59.8% true shooting, there's not much more you could ask for from Harden. He's answered the bell in every way.

P.J. Tucker has been an absolute monster in this series. As a small-ball center for a good percentage of this series, Tucker has grabbed 9.0 rebounds per game with 2.6 of those being offensive. Tucker has been tasked with the job of defending Kevin Durant and has matched up admirably with him and Houston as a team has defended an incredible 19.8 points per 100 possessions better with Tucker on the floor. Tucker is also shooting an insane 47.4% from three-point range in this series.

And Eric Gordon is just stealing the show in this series. Gordon isn't shooting the three-ball very well, but his driving to the rim has kept him extremely efficient. Because of the poor three-point shooting (33.9%), Gordon may be the only one from this group who has room for improvement incredibly enough.




5) Luck

It's unfortunate that we have to talk about injuries being the possible swinging force for a team, but they play a factor. According to Shams Charania, Kevin Durant suffered a right calf strain during Game 5. The Rockets would rather beat the Warriors at full health, but if Durant were to miss Game 6, you'd be hard-pressed to find somebody from the Rockets complaining about not having to play Durant.

Of course, luck doesn't have to come into play with a missed game from Durant. It could also come in the form of a poor shooting night from Klay Thompson or Steph Curry. It could come in the form of hot three-point shooting. Whatever the case, having a little luck go Houston's way would go a long way in tying up this series.

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Astros defeat the Orioles, 5-1. Composite Getty Image.

Ronel Blanco pitched seven strong innings and Chas McCormick homered twice to lead the Houston Astros to a 5-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.

Yordan Alvarez added a two-run shot to help Houston extend its winning streak to four games.

Blanco (8-2), who threw seven hitless innings in his last start, allowed four hits and a run with three strikeouts for his third straight win.

Alvarez put the Astros on top with his 16th homer, which came off Corbin Burnes (8-3) in the third, and McCormick made it 4-1 in the fifth. McCormick got his fifth career multihomer game when he connected again in the eighth.

Burnes allowed five hits, including a season-high two homers and a season-most four runs in seven innings to snap his career-best streak of 10 consecutive quality starts. He was 5-0 in seven starts since a loss at Washington on May 7.

Jordan Westburg homered in the second for the Orioles, who set a franchise record with 21 straight games with a home run to surpass the 1998 squad's 20-game streak.

Baltimore had troubled stringing hits together Saturday after scoring 28 runs combined in the last two games. The top four batters in their order combined to go 1 for 13 against Blanco and Houston's bullpen.

Ryan Pressly threw a scoreless eighth before Josh Hader struck out two in a perfect ninth to end it.

Westburg connected off Blanco with one out in the second to put the Orioles up 1-0.

Yainer Diaz opened Houston’s second with a triple on a line drive to right field. The Astros tied it when he scored on a sacrifice fly by Mauricio Dubón with one out.

McCormick singled with no outs in the third and the shot to center field by Alvarez came with two outs to put Houston on top 3-1.

McCormick’s home run to the seats in left field extended the lead to 4-1 with one out in the fifth.

Cedric Mullins tripled off the wall in center with one out in the seventh. Colton Cowser hit a sharp line drive, but was robbed of a hit when shortstop Jeremy Peña made a leaping catch for the second out. Blanco then retired Ramón Urías to end the inning and leave Mullins stranded.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP Jake Bloss, who made his major league debut Friday night, was placed on the injured list with right shoulder discomfort.

ROSTER MOVES

Astros: RHP Nick Hernandez was optioned to Triple-A Sugar Land on Friday night. ... LHP Bryan King was selected to the MLB roster and RHP Luis Contreras was recalled from Sugar Land on Saturday. … RHP Alex Speas was designated for assignment.

UP NEXT

Houston LHP Framber Valdez (5-5, 3.91 ERA) opposes RHP Albert Suárez (3-1, 2.05) in the series finale Sunday.

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