Image licensed from USA Today Sports
The Houston Rockets had the best record in the NBA this year and now they are just one step away from reaching the NBA Finals for the first time since 1994/95, which was the last time they won the NBA Title. This is despite the fact that the Warriors were actually favored to win the series. The Rockets were down 2-1 in this series, but they grabbed a huge win at Golden State on Tuesday night and followed that up with a 98-94 win at home on Thursday evening.
The bad news from their win on Thursday night was the fact that they lost Chris Paul to a hamstring injury in the final two minutes of the game and he is now listed as questionable. He had 20 points in Game 5 and hit some key threes, while grabbing seven boards and dishing out six assists. He really is a big part of this team and was brought in to get them over the hump and win an NBA title. If he is out for this game or the rest of the series, then the Rockets will really have a tough time winning this series never mind the NBA Title, no matter who they face in the next round.
Paul is second on the team in scoring at 21.1 ppg during the postseason, but he does so many other things that make him valuable as he can dish out the rock and is also a solid rebounder. Harden may be the best player on the team, but Paul is their leader on the floor. He missed 24 games this year and the Rockets were 14-9 straight-up this year with Paul not on the floor. But they were also just 9-14 ATS in those games and they averaged just 102.3 ppg in their last nine games that he has missed, which was 10.2 ppg fewer than their regular season average of 112.4 ppg.
The bottom line here is that they clearly need him on the court if they wish to keep their hopes alive of winning the NBA Title for the first time since 1994/95. Let's also note that they don't have a ton of depth as they played just seven players in their 98-94 win on Thursday night. Leading their attack in that game was Eric Gordon, who had 24 points, while Paul was 2nd with 20 and Harden was 3rd with 19. Clint Capella chipped in with 12, while also grabbing 14 rebounds.
The Rockets have allowed just 102.5 ppg in the postseason, which is sixth in the league and losing Paul would hurt in that respect as well as is a good defender and had three steals in the game five win. As I stated above, Paul does so many things for this team, that his loss would be devastating for them.
The Warriors lost Game Four of this series at home and that broke a 16 game home playoff winning streak that they were on. The Warriors were just 8-8 ATS in those games and have now gone just 8-11 ATS in their last 19 home playoff games. The Warriors are the deeper team and despite the fact that they are down 3-2 in this series, they have a great shot at winning it if the Rockets are without Paul for the final two. If the Rockets have Paul on the floor then they are in very good shape, especially since they were 51-8 (SU) with him on the floor this year.