The Golden State Warriors defeated the Houston Rockets, 118-113, on Friday night time to clinch a contentious Western Conference semifinal sequence many noticed as the de facto N.B.A. finals.
The Warriors, who performed with out its injured star Kevin Durant, persevered on the street to shut out a tightly contested sequence, 4 video games to 2. In doing so, Golden State stored alive its dream of successful three straight N.B.A. championships — and its fourth in 5 years.
Stephen Curry, after going scoreless for the Warriors in the first half, erupted for 33 factors in the second, and Klay Thompson was terrific all through, ending with 27 factors whereas capturing 7-of-13 from Three-point vary — together with one which primarily sealed the win in the closing minute. The Splash Brothers, as the two are recognized, got here by when it mattered most.
James Harden had 35 factors in the loss for Houston, and Chris Paul added 27 factors after struggling for a lot of the sequence. But that was not sufficient.
The Warriors, the prime seed in the West, will face the Denver Nuggets or the Portland Trail Blazers in the convention finals. The Nuggets and Blazers are tied at three video games apiece in their semifinal sequence, with Game 7 scheduled for Sunday in Denver.
No matter which crew emerges, it’s broadly thought that the Warriors, in beating the Rockets, have dislodged their solely true impediment to successful one more championship. None of the video games in their sequence was determined by greater than six factors.
The Warriors haven’t typically been underestimated since they started their run of dominance. But it was unclear how they’d cope with out Durant, who had been a very outsize presence in these playoffs, averaging 34.2 factors, 5.2 rebounds and four.9 assists per recreation whereas capturing 51.Three p.c from the subject.
Late in the third quarter of Wednesday’s Game 5, Durant strained his proper calf after making an attempt a soar shot, and he instantly left for the locker room. The Warriors surged to a pivotal win with out him, then stored their momentum going in Houston on Friday.
The Warriors have stated that Durant, who was named the most dear participant of the final two N.B.A. finals, can be re-evaluated subsequent week, but it surely appears unlikely that he can be able to return in time for the begin of the convention finals on Tuesday.
For Houston, the loss was the newest blow to its efforts to topple the defending champions and win the franchise’s first N.B.A. title since 1995. Last season, the Rockets stretched the Warriors to the restrict in the convention finals, shedding the sequence in seven video games.
After Durant went down, the Rockets appeared to have the Warriors on the ropes once more. But Houston couldn’t capitalize behind Harden, its high-octane guard. Harden, a favourite to repeat as the N.B.A.’s most dear participant, dominated numerous opponents this season and annoyed the Warriors by regularly drawing fouls on Three-point photographs.
Golden State tried to restrict his effectiveness by throwing a number of defenders at him. Harden nonetheless was averaging 34.eight factors by the first 5 video games of the sequence.
But even that was not sufficient in opposition to the Warriors, who in the end imposed their will, as they’ve executed repeatedly the final 5 seasons.