Houston Rockets: Game 5 will be the most important against Warriors

Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets guards James Harden and Chris Paul (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

What must be done in Game 5

For starters, the Houston Rockets can win and have won at Oracle Arena in the playoffs. Last season saw Houston pull off a stunning win on the road in a crucial game four to even the series. The Houston Rockets had a golden chance to close out the series on the road even without Chris Paul. After a good first half, things were never the same in the second half as the Warriors took control and never relinquished it.

This season, two of Houston’s three wins over the Warriors were on the road. So it has been done before, but, it’s going to take more than what was displayed in the first two games.

Supporting Cast Must Show

The biggest problem for the Houston Rockets in the first two games wasn’t the officiating. It was the supporting cast not stepping up.

Clint Capela was not an effective rebounder as he had 16 total rebounds through the first two games. Part of that was due to his illness going into the series. Against a team like Golden State, you cannot get out crashed on the boards. In the last two games, he’s improved with 20 rebounds in total. He needs to be effective on the rebounding if Houston wants to win Game 5.

P.J Tucker and Eric Gordon have been stepping up their games lately. Tucker was held scoreless in game one while he tallied 13 points in game two. But he was an unsung hero in game three with 17 points off the bench. Eric Gordon brought himself into the spotlight with 50 points over the past two games. While he had 27 in game one, he finished with 15 points in game two. If Gordon can continue his rhythm from games three and four, the Warriors have multiple problems to solve aside from Harden.

As far as the bench goes, Austin Rivers, despite playing three games, has been the best player coming off the bench with 32 points (10.7 ppg) in the three games he’s played. But everyone from Gerald Green, Nene, and Iman Shumpert could up their game a bit.

Harden must continue to play up to standards

Love him or hate him, Harden has stepped up his game. For those that don’t want to admit it, Harden has averaged 35.8 ppg through four games. This is including the 41 and 38 points he scored in Houston’s two wins. This is higher than the 29.7 ppg he averaged last season in the playoffs.

But now, it gets to the point where he will have to continue to play up to that standard he has set for himself this series. In games 5-7 of the Western Conference Finals, Harden averaged 27.6 PPG. This was mainly due to him scoring 19 points in Game 5 while he posted a pair of 32-point games in the Houston Rockets‘ losses. The fact that people think he chokes in the playoffs is very absurd.

Still, it must be critical for Harden to go off in the next two games for the Houston Rockets to have a chance. He’s endured the Warrior’s tight defense and eye poking to take off. The question remains if Harden can keep this up at Oracle.  I think 27.8 PPG at the Oracle in the postseason is great. But I’m certain Harden would like to contribute in Game 5.

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Houston Rockets must be the Road Dogs

Houston is dominant at home during the playoffs. But right now, home court advantage is in favor of Golden State. A win for the Warriors will give them two chances to end the series. This will force Houston to win game six setting up a game seven in the Bay Area. In order to win the series, somebody has to take a road win. That’s why it’s important that Houston get this one to have a golden chance to end the series.

Obviously, we remember last year when Houston did have a 3-2 series lead following a Game 5 win in the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors did rally to win the series. While much was made on us missing 27 threes in Game 7 and Chris Paul’s injury hurt us as well. We can only hope that doesn’t happen this time. But in truth, we have to show up and carry the momentum into Game 5 because it can be snatched from us in a heartbeat.

No Pity Party

As much as the officiating hurt the Rockets early on, the reaction by the team made it tough to be a fan. Outside factors will occur but reacting to them isn’t going to help you win games. Yes, we live in a society where there have been authoritative decisions that might’ve screwed teams in the past. There’s nothing we can do. If we focus on what we can control, then things will play out the way they can.