We should have seen it coming. Afterall, Steph Curry missed 31 games total this season with an ankle and MCL injury. Not only that, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green also missed at least 9 games each with ailments this season. These Warriors limped to the finish line literally and figuratively to a 58-24 record and the number two seed in the Western Conference, which is the first time during the Steve Kerr era that they entered the Playoffs, not as the number 1 seed. Those of us that predicted the Golden State Warriors would repeat this year kept telling ourselves that the regular season doesn’t matter and that these Warriors will turn it on when it matters most and overcome a Rockets team that beat them in 2 out of the 3 regular season meetings. We also kept telling ourselves that the Mike D’Antoni system is not conducive to winning championships and that this Rockets team will fold in a playoff series against these Warriors (It sure looked that way after three games). But based on the results of last nights Game 5 of the WCF, perhaps it’s time to admit that these Warriors are more vulnerable than we thought. Don’t believe me? Check out these game highlights below courtesy of Free Dawkins.
There is no doubt about it that the Warriors are missing Andre Iguodala in the worse way during this past two-game stretch. The Iguodala injury has caused Coach Kerr to expand his rotation which has been to the detriment of the team. The Warriors haven’t played quite like themselves over the past two games as they’ve created costly turnovers throughout the game, untimely shooting and reach in fouls, and their fourth-quarter scoring has been abysmal due to the team’s lack of ball movement which is what this team hangs its hat on.
According to Coach Steve Kerr, a lot of the mistakes that his team is making are correctable hence his positive attitude. All-Defensive Forward/Center, Draymond Green all but guaranteed a Game 7 back on enemy ground in Houston.
The Warriors have trailed in only 3 series under Steve Kerr.
They've won all 3. pic.twitter.com/j55IwRHCdy
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 25, 2018
As if Coach Kerr needed another reason to feel confident, Arguably the heart and soul of the Houston Rockets, Chris Paul went down in the closing moments of Game 5 with a hamstring injury. According to Marc J. Spears of ESPN, he was informed by CP3 himself that he would be good to go for Game 6.
Just saw injured Rockets guard Chris Paul jump into a Maybach outside the Toyota Center and he said: “I will be all right.” I next asked about Game 6, Paul said: “Oh yeah,” before being whisked away.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) May 25, 2018
However, as reported this morning by Tim McMahon, the status of Chris Paul’s hamstring injury is ” not good”.
"Not good," a Rockets source replied to a text asking about Chris Paul (hamstring) feels this morning.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) May 25, 2018
If the Warriors are able to correct their in-game mistakes and get a healthy Iguodala back for Game 6, then they should feel confident in forcing a Game 7 and potentially closing out the Rockets on the road giving the injury status of CP3 and a struggling James Harden.
With that said, this version of the “Big 4” Golden State Warriors are in unfamiliar territory. The last time they were in an elimination game was Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals against LeBron and the Cavs which they loss. The last time the Warriors were dealing with a major injury in the latter stages of a playoff series was with their Center, Andrew Bogut and ironically a hobbled Iguodala in which resulted in that same series upset against the Cavaliers in 2016. And the last time Kevin Durant had his back against the wall in a playoff series was in the 2016 Western Conference Finals which resulted in a series defeat against these Golden State Warriors. It seems like all of the stars are not lining up in favor of these Warriors after a smooth sailing road to a championship the previous season. These Warriors are vulnerable but will they be the wounded animals that fight back to preserve their territory or will they fold under unfamiliar pressure? Only time will tell
Update: According to the Houston Rockets Twitter account, Chris Paul has been ruled out for Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.
.@CP3 will miss Saturday’s game at Golden State with a right hamstring strain.
He will be re-evaluated after the team returns to Houston. pic.twitter.com/5gAdYas3Vo
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) May 25, 2018
If this injury is so severe that Paul misses Game 7 as well, then it is safe to say you could disregard everything you just read in this article.