On Sunday we saw the last of the NBA Conference semi-finals, with one series coming down to a Game 7 showdown to see who will progress through to the final stage before the NBA Championship series.
The Houston Rockets were the team celebrating at the end of the game, as their 113-100 win gave them a 4-3 triumph in the series, ending the campaign for the Los Angeles Clippers. The Rockets don’t have much time to bask in the glory of their victory though; they will need to get back into action on Tuesday where they take on the Golden State Warriors. Some people will look on it as the showdown between Stephen Curry and James Harden but it is likely to be a contest between two teams who are desperate to grab the chance of glory that has come their way.
Los Angeles Clippers 100 – Houston Rockets 113
The Houston Rockets triumph is all the more remarkable given that they were 3-1 down in the series. This meant that the Clippers had three chances to win one game that would see them through but the Rockets held on and held on. The Houston side are now enjoying being in their first Western Conference for 18 years while the Clippers will have a very solid sense of regret this morning.
As you would expect, James Harden was in the thick of it all, offering up 31 points in the series clincher. Dwight Howard was also on offer, offering up 16 points and 15 rebounds in the win, and when you take on board the fact that the Rockets never trailed at any point in Game 7, it is clear that they knew what they had to do to keep on playing in the playoffs.
Game 6 was different, that was a night when the Rockets had to overhaul a 19 point deficit in the third quarter and you wonder if doing that gave them the confidence to push on, or if it destroyed the confidence and belief that the Clippers had. You can’t get so close to overall victory and then fail to be shaken when you fail to get over the line on a number of occasions.
The Rockets need to get back to their best very quickly
While impressive, turning around a 3-1 deficit to go through in a 7 game series is not unheard of; in fact, this was the ninth time that it had been achieved! That shouldn’t take away from the achievement of the Rockets though, many felt that they were dead and buried in the series, so being able to bounce back in such a strong and consistent fashion is a huge achievement. However, there will be some fans wondering how much this series has taken out of them and with the Golden State Warriors lying in wait for Tuesday, the Rockets need to get back to their best as quickly as they can.
The Clippers will be feeling very sorry for themselves and they did show signs of a possible late revival on Sunday night. Blake Griffin was instrumental in a 9-0 run that cut the gap to 8 points with less than 3 minutes on the clock but from there on, the teams traded points and there was no real scope for the Clippers to get back into the game.
Game 1 of the Western Conference final takes place on Tuesday with the Houston Rockets travelling to the Golden State Warriors while Game 1 of the Eastern Conference takes place on Wednesday with the Cleveland Cavaliers travelling on the Atlanta Hawks.
We’ll then see a game a day until the series concludes, and if we reach Game 7 in the series, the Conference Finals are set to conclude on Sunday the 31st of May (for the Western Conference) and Monday the 1st of June (for the Eastern Conference).