One thing is clear through three games of the power-packed Western Conference finals between a Golden State team that has won two of the past three championships and a Houston team that had a league-best 65 wins.
If either team is off its game Chris Iannetta Colorado Rockies Jersey , a blowout could ensue.
The Rockets found themselves on the wrong end of that equation in a 126-85 defeat in Game 3 that was the most lopsided loss in their postseason history and the biggest win ever for the Warriors, who took a 2-1 series lead.
Now the big question heading into Game 4 on Tuesday night is which team has the edge if both are clicking.
”I kind of expected that yesterday, that it would be that type of game,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. ”We didn’t bring our best game. But I’m hoping for the best. I hope we play great and them bad. Never know.”
In a possible bit of gamesmanship, D’Antoni said the pressure in Game 4 is squarely on Golden State’s shoulders despite the fact Houston trails in the series. He hopes that helps his players stay loose and play with an extra ”giddy-up” in their step.
”We should always have a swagger,” star guard James Harden said. ”But even more importantly, tomorrow. They’ve got to try to take a 3-1 lead going on the road. Tie this thing up going back to our crib.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he welcomes the pressure, knowing his team has shown a tendency to lose focus when there’s not as much on the line. That may have contributed to Golden State coming out flat in a 127-105 loss in Game 2 after winning the series opener by 13 points.
Star Kevin Durant has another theory for why there have been so many lopsided games this postseason. There has been only one Western Conference playoff game this month decided by fewer than eight points and there hasn’t been a single playoff game in either conference decided by single digits since May 9 heading into Monday night’s action.
”The 3-pointer’s such a huge part of the game now that it could easily go from six to 16 or 17 in a matter of seconds in the game,” Durant said. ”So I wouldn’t say … the games aren’t good. It’s just the fact that the style of play causes teams to pull away a little faster.”
The Warriors might have to take the court in Game 4 without a key contributor. Forward Andre Iguodala is doubtful with a sore left knee. If Iguodala can’t go Jeff Locke Color Rush Jersey , the Warriors will be down a key defender against Harden and a playmaker on offense, forcing Kerr to make another adjustment after the move to put Iguodala in the starting lineup provided a spark in the second round against New Orleans.
One factor in Golden State’s favor is that Stephen Curry might have found his outside shot in the second half Sunday. After making just 3 of 20 3-pointers in the first 10 quarters of the series, Curry hit 4 of 5 from long range after intermission Sunday, including a 30-footer.
”I work on it all the time, and I made it before,” Curry said. ”I had amnesia, really. In that moment, in my head am I 0-for-0, or am I 10-for-10 in my head? I’m feeling good in that moment. Just shoot it. You can’t second-guess your first instinct in that moment. So it’s obviously good to see it go down http://www.cowboysauthorizedshops.com/authentic-jihad-ward-jersey , and we got a little boost from that possession.”
That type of short-term memory is just what the Rockets need after the Game 3 blowout, even if D’Antoni did plan to hold a film session to go over the mistakes for his own sanity more than as a teaching tool.
His players know they weren’t aggressive enough on both ends and lacked the focus needed to beat a Warriors team that is nearly unstoppable when at its best this time of year. But the Rockets have the confidence built in a stellar regular season and first two rounds to believe they have the tools to pull it off.
”Just go out there and do it,” Harden said. ”It’s pretty simple. Not try to overcomplicate things. Just go out there and do what we do. Obviously, do the opposite of what we did last game, but it’s not hard at all.”
NOTES: Iguodala banged his knee in the fourth quarter Sunday, Kerr said. … Kerr plans to speak to the league about Draymond Green’s double-technical with Trevor Ariza in the fourth when Ariza shoved the Warriors forward after they traded words.
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in Oakland contributed to this report.
Rockets star Chris Paul is receiving treatment ”around the clock” on his injured right hamstring and coach Mike D’Antoni hopes it will only be a matter of days before he is healthy enough to play again.
The timeline remained unclear whether Paul might be fine to play a possible Game 7 if the Rockets lost Saturday night’s Game 6 and had to return to Houston to face the Golden State Warriors again Monday night. Eric Gordon started in Paul’s place Saturday at Oracle Arena.
”I think he’ll play as soon as he can,” D’Antoni said before the game Saturday. ”It’s just not a question of trying to outsmart. He’s going to play. As soon as he’s able to walk and run, he’ll do it. There was no shot at it today.”
Golden State forward Andre Iguodala was out for a third straight game this series after he sustained a bone bruise in his left knee during Game 3. Coach Steve Kerr said Iguodala continues to have pain when running, so he’s still listed as day to day.
”It’s a bone bruise http://www.cowboysauthorizedshops.com/authentic-leighton-vander-esch-jersey , and those are hard to predict,” Kerr said. ”Until he’s able to really run without pain, then he can’t play.”
Paul’s presence at Oracle Arena still meant plenty.
”He’s devastated. He has to be. We’re all devastated for him. At the same time, we’ll rally and do what’s right,” D’Antoni said. ”He’s so integral in what we do and the spirit of the team. And him being here is a big deal, and him being on the bench is a big deal. He’ll will us through, if he can.”
Kerr felt terribly for Paul – and others who have gone down.
”More than anything, I feel bad for Chris. The guy is a phenomenal player and competitor, and pretty much willed his team the last two games. He’s just been haunted by these types of injuries in his career Dorance Armstrong Jr. Color Rush Jersey , and it’s a shame,” Kerr said.
”I hate when anybody gets hurt. I hate when Andre got hurt. I hate to see Kevin Love last night, Kyrie (Irving). These guys train so hard and they’re here and they’re competing, and you want everybody to be healthy, but just the reality is it usually doesn’t work out that way. So you’ve just got to keep playing with whoever’s there and keep going.”
Second-year Golden State guard Patrick McCaw, who had been out since a scary back injury at Sacramento on March 31 when undercut by Vince Carter, was available to play after earlier being upgraded to questionable. He wasn’t expected to contribute key minutes given the injury and time missed.
”It would be a tough spot to put him in, in the meat of the game, with not having played for a long time. But at this point http://www.49ersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-mike-mcglinchey-jersey , it’s all hands on deck, obviously,” Kerr said. ”You never know how the game’s going to play out. I had teammates who literally played one play in a playoff game and made a play and helped us win a game. So you just never know.”