Post Up: Rockets And Warriors Advance, Set Up Awesome Western Conference Finals

by May 09, 2018
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Chris Paul

Rockets 112, Jazz 102 (Rockets win 4-1)

It’s pretty nice when James Harden can have an off night (18 points on 7-of-22 shooting) and be picked up by another future Hall-of-Famer. Chris Paul (41 points on 8-of-10 three-point shooting, 7 rebounds, 10 assists) finally reached his first conference finals, and did so in dominating fashion. The Rockets controlled the first half, even without playing their best, but slipped early in the second as Donovan Mitchell (24 points, 9 assists) outscored Houston 22-21 in the frame to give Utah the lead.

Mitchell, a resurgent Alec Burks (22 points, 5 assists) and Royce O’Neale (17 points) helped the Jazz give the Rockets a real challenge late. Still, CP3 was just too good, picking up Harden by scoring 13 straight points to finish this one off. Mitchell wasn’t even on the floor toward the end of regulation, leaving with left foot soreness. He went straight to the locker room and then sat on the bench as time expired.

While this performance shouldn’t quiet all of CP3’s critics that note his struggles in recent playoffs, it pushes him a lot closer to shutting them down for good. He was incredible throughout but especially in the fourth quarter, making jumper after jumper, both open and contested. If he can play like that whenever Harden is struggling — it should be noted that CP3 said in a postgame interview that Harden was a little under the weather — this Houston team is near unstoppable.

This game also ends what turned into an incredibly surprising season for the Jazz, who responded to losing a franchise player in Gordon Hayward by winning 48 regular season games and a playoff series. They advanced past the first round just once with Hayward — last season — and were swept by the Warriors. The future is bright in Salt Lake City.

Warriors 113, Pelicans 104 (Warriors win 4-1)

Gotta give the Pelicans a ton of credit for weathering the initial storm from the Warriors and the secondary surge in the third quarter only to fight back in the fourth and make it a game down the stretch. Anthony Davis (34 points, 19 rebounds) and Jrue Holiday (27 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists) had monster games to try and keep New Orleans alive but it just wasn’t enough to top a Dubs team starting to click on all cylinders with a healthy Steph Curry (28 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists).

The Pelicans ended the first half well, cutting the Golden State lead to 59-56. Then, the Warriors went on one of those Warriors runs, nearly doubling up New Orleans in the third quarter. It felt like Golden State would cruise to the finish line, but the Pelicans kept hanging around and found themselves down just seven with two minutes left to play. Draymond Green (19 points, 14 rebounds, 9 assists) responded with an 18-footer, though, squashing the run and sealing the win.

Kevin Durant (24 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists) and Klay Thompson (23 points) played well too, but it was Steph that pushed the Warriors over the edge. With both Houston and Golden State entering the Western Conference Finals off pretty impressive series wins, it looks like we could be set up for a legendary battle.