Houston at Golden State
Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, California
OAKLAND – The Golden State Warriors seized homecourt advantage from the Houston Rockets in their best-of-seven Western Conference finals, and that’s proven to be a pretty significant edge for the defending champs. The Warriors put a 15-game home winning streak in the playoffs – tied for the NBA record – on the line when they host the Rockets in a critical Game 3 on Sunday night.
To keep its run alive and set a new league standard, Golden State needs to recover from a 22-point loss in Game 2 that saw guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson struggle to shoot a combined 10-for-30 from the floor. “I’ve gone 0-for-11 before shooting 3s and 1-for-8, whatever the case is,” Curry told reporters Friday. “I always shoot that next shot with the optimism and confidence that it’s going in. So, you can work on stuff between practices and games to get your rhythm, just seeing the ball going in and working on your mechanics, but [I’ll] never lose confidence in myself. That’ll never change.” Houston sees an opportunity to take back control of the series and insists it is unfazed as it enters two straight games in Oakland. “The challenge is you’re playing Golden State,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni told reporters. “That’s why they’ve won 15 in a row, not because of the building, but because they’re good. I mean, everybody, all these players are used to playing in hostile environments or loud or whatever. I mean, it helps a little bit. Sometimes you feed off the energy also from the other crowd. So you try to take them out as soon as you can and take out the crowd, but they’re a good basketball team.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE ROCKETS: Point guard Chris Paul had 16 points, six assists and three steals in the Game 2 win while fighting through a calf issue that he says will not hold him back for Sunday’s tilt. “His foot was bothering him a little bit,” D’Antoni told the media of Paul, who returned to practice Friday. “It shouldn’t be a problem. Just normal. Nothing that would sideline him or anything. He’s good.” Eric Gordon scored 27 points while making 6-of-9 from 3-point range in Game 2 after averaging 9.7 points and hitting 5-of-18 from beyond the arc over his previous three contests.
ABOUT THE WARRIORS: Coach Steve Kerr is one of many on the Golden State side hoping that a change of venue will help his team rediscover its mental edge. “Game 2 everything changed,” Kerr told KNBR’s Tolbert and Lund. “We gave up easy hoops. PJ Tucker got two wide open 3s in the corners in the second quarter. That got him going. Everything that Houston needed to get going, they got it. Some of it was their doing, some of it was lack of intensity and focus, and we’ve got to be better with that.” Kevin Durant has carried the load offensively by averaging 37.5 points on 55.1 percent shooting in the series.
1. Tucker scored 22 points on 8-of-9 shooting in Game 2 after going 35 minutes without a field goal in Game 1.
2. Thompson needs four points to move past Hall of Famer Rick Barry (1,776) and into second place on the franchise’s all-time postseason scoring list.
3. Houston took the only meeting in Oakland during the regular season with a 122-121 victory, as Durant’s jumper at the buzzer was ruled too late.