HOUSTON (AP) – When the Golden State Warriors lost Game 5 of the Western Conference finals to the Rockets on Thursday night to send them to the brink of elimination they vowed to be back in Houston for Game 7.
After a resounding win in Game 6 that’s exactly where the defending champions are, preparing for a winner-take-all game Monday night for a spot in the NBA Finals.
“It’s going to be fun,” Stephen Curry said. “It’s what you play for, to be in a situation where you’re one win away from going to the finals. Pressure both ways because of how big the moment is, and you’ve got to want it.”
The Warriors trailed by as many as 17 points in the first half Saturday night before using a splendid second half to roll to a 115-86 victory. Curry knows that if the Warriors hope to return to the finals for the fourth straight year they’ll have to get off to a better start in Game 7.
“I guarantee if we start the game out like we did (Saturday) and they jump out to the lead, it’s going to be 10 times harder to make it a game,” Curry said. “So for us that’s our challenge to have the same mentality we had for the last 36 minutes of (Game 6) and bring that from the jump in Game 7.”
Kevin Durant is excited about helping the Warriors return to the finals, but he got a little confused on when Game 7 was on Saturday night.
“I can’t wait ’til Tuesday,” Durant said.
Curry quickly jumped in to correct his teammate.
“Monday,” he said. “Please don’t miss a game.”
The Rockets aren’t dwelling on their missed opportunity to close out the series as they get ready for Monday’s game where they’ll try to punch their ticket to finals for the first time since winning back-to-back titles in 1995-95.
They might have to do it without star Chris Paul, who is dealing with a strained right hamstring that kept him out of Game 6. Coach Mike D’Antoni said Sunday that he’s continuing to receive treatment and his status for Game 7 will likely be a game-time decision.
James Harden, who had 22 points in the first half on Saturday night but just 10 the rest of the way, insists that the Rockets remain confident despite the blowout loss and are up to Monday’s challenge.
“There’s no pressure. It’s an opportunity, an opportunity that we all are excited to be a part of,” he said. “Game 7 at our house, that’s what we’ve worked the entire regular season for (is) to get home-court advantage. So we’re going to come out and be ready.”
The Rockets tied the Raptors for best home record in the NBA during the regular season by going 34-7. They’re 7-2 in Houston this postseason with one of their losses coming in Game 1 of this series.
After 10,000 people paid $10 each to watch Saturday night’s game at the Toyota Center in what was a fundraiser for victims of the Santa Fe school shooting, Harden has no doubt that the home fans will be ready to help them out in Game 7.
“They’re going to bring it,” he said. “We’ve got a whole city behind us, and they’re as loyal as they come.”
Golden State coach Steve Kerr is trying to figure out why his team has struggled to put together complete games in this series, but is proud that the Warriors have found ways to win despite their up and down play.
“Our guys have a ton of character and a ton of competitiveness, desire,” he said. “They’re champions. So our guys compete. That’s the main thing. They may not always focus, but they compete.”
The Warriors are also dealing with injuries as Kerr said Andre Iguodala, who has missed the last two games with a bruised left leg, is doubtful for Monday’s game.
Kevon Looney has filled in for him the last two games but is also listed as questionable for Game 7 with sore toe on his left foot. However Kerr said Looney is fine and will play in Game 7.
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