Kevin Durant mistakenly said he’d be ready for Tuesday’s Game 7 during Game 6’s press conference.
Stephen Curry corrected him saying:
“Please don’t miss the game.”
They both laughed, but it looked like Durant really had gotten his days messed up during a rough first half.
He made sure to show up for the Warriors usual third-quarter blitz to earn a fourth-straight Western Conference Championship, and the Finals spot that joins it, with a 101-92 win at Houston’s Toyota Center.
The Rockets looked like they had the only players that were remotely interested in advancing to the Finals early. Their effort and passion was an embodiment of a team in a win-or-go-home Game 7, the Warriors meanwhile came out like it was a February game against the Orlando Magic.
Klay Thompson came out amped for the moment just like he was in Game 6 — that cost him and the team as he picked up two fouls in less than a minute, and three fouls in the first quarter biting on pump fakes and getting too close to shooters. He had to take a seat just three minutes and 40 seconds into the game.
It was the worst possible start for the Warriors, who also had to battle their patented screw-around effort when they think they already have the win.
They went down by as much as 15 as James Harden got to the line with ease and P.J. Tucker embarrassed every Warrior on the defensive glass. Harden finished with 32 points while Tucker collected 12 rebounds to go with 14 points.
Then the inevitable third-quarter spurt happened. Curry took over going 5-of-6 with four 3’s and finally unlocked the sputtering Warriors offense. He finished with 27 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds, with 19 of those points coming after halftime.
And while Curry was heating up, the Rockets went cold, they shot 0-14 from deep in the third quarter, almost all of them on open looks, and had a stretch of 27-straight misses from 3. They would finish the game 7-of-44 from beyond the arc, which sealed their fate once the Warriors started hitting.
Trevor Ariza went 0-of-12 from the field and 0-of-9 from deep and the Rockets role players each faltered down the stretch. It was like they remembered that they were one win away from an NBA Finals. Clint Capela and Eric Gordon finished with 20 and 23 respectively, most in the first half, but Houston got just three bench points.
Where they fell down, the Warriors rose up. Thompson rebounded to pour in 19 points and Durant put one of his worst halves of basketball behind him to put up a team high 34 points. He finished with just five rebounds though, which is going to have to improve next round.
He was constantly late in help and let the 6-foot-6 Tucker rack up eight offensive rebounds despite towering over him. He picked it up after halftime and also got his isolation stroke working to put the game out of reach with a number of timely postups late.
It took him a whole half but he did just what he told Curry he was going to do, show up for Game 7.
The Warriors now advance to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers for the fourth-straight year. Game 1 will take place Thursday night at Oracle Arena.
Stephen Curry became the first player since 1984 to have at least 25 points, 10 assists and four steals in a Game 7.