The Warriors set a franchise record with their record 41-point margin of victory (126-85 win) in game three at the Oracle Arena on Sunday. Head coach Steve Kerr was keen to stress the pressure was still on his players with a slender 2-1 lead: “Who is the pressure on? We have pressure to win two more games and they have pressure to win three more games. So there’s pressure every game. It’s the playoffs.” The defending NBA champions started in a manner that suggested they meant business. The Rockets didn’t get on the score sheet in the opening five minutes. There was talk of a shutout on social media, albeit in jest, However, it took sloppy Draymond Green pass to give the Rockets their first bucket. Rookie Jordan Bell blocked Clint Capela at the end of the first quarter to ensure the Warriors ended the first quarter as they started it.
The Eastern and Western Conference finals haven’t been much of a spectacle so far. The Warriors won by 41 points in Game Three after easing to a 119-106 victory in Game One. The Rockets blew away the Warriors in Game Two with a 127-105 triumph. The Cavs and Celtics have traded landslide wins to leave the Eastern Conference Finals tied at 2-2 apiece. Kerr’s explanation for the one-sided games was the emergence of three-point shooters: “My only theory would be the prominence of the three-point shot these days. Offensively teams are so explosive. The scores are much higher now than they used to be.” Game Four threatened to go the same way until the Rockets rallied in the second half of the second quarter. The Warriors appeared to have wrestled back control when their trademark third quarter flurry secured an 80-70 lead. But the Rockets tied the series as Kerr’s side missed a number of late opportunities.
Chris Paul’s first quarter stats made for underwhelming reading: 0 points, 1 assist, 0/3 FG, 11 minutes, no other stats. The Rockets No3 was taking a lot of heat on Twitter as the Warriors surged into a commanding lead in the opening 12 minutes. While his fellow all-star James Harden contributed nine points, Paul missed two field goals and contributed little. The point guard, who moved from the LA Clippers to the Rockets last year, continued his struggles in the Western Conference finals. The second quarter saw Paul come alive. The 33-year-old sunk five of six field goal attempts to reverse the score. The former New Orleans point guard finished with 27 points to play a crucial role in the Rockets’ Game Four win.
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BIOGRAPHY: Ethan Hazard
BIOGRAPHY: Daniel Sturridge