There may have been a wobble or two here and there throughout the first two rounds of the NBA Playoffs for the Houston Rockets, but nothing more than that. After Sunday, they now have a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference Semi-finals, and it looks like they will be easing their way toward the meeting we have all been anticipating this season: Rockets vs Warriors- a match up that many expect to be the de facto NBA Finals.
They took their 3-1 lead after a great showing from point guard Chris Paul. It has been no secret that the Rockets like to play either at the rim or shoot the ball from three, but on this night it was more about mid-range shooting for Paul. He would lead his team with 27 points and 12 assists, outdoing the assumed league MVP James Harden. Paul stated that shots from mid-range were like layups for him, and he certainly proved it in Houston on Sunday.
Harden, despite taking the Robin role for a game, still had a good showing, turning in 24 points of his own in the 100-87 win over the Jazz. The Jazz were effectively beaten in the paint, where they missed a number of shots from close range that might have otherwise changed the complexion of the series. They got another fine showing from Rookie of the Year candidate Donovan Mitchell before he ultimately fouled out. They’ve done quite the job to get themselves this far, and though pleasantries won’t make them feel good about losing, they have accomplished a ton this season.
As it relates to the Rockets, they are now one game away from getting to the Western Conference Finals and setting up a series that every NBA fan has been yearning for all season. The Warriors, quickly turning into a bonafide dynasty with one of the best and deepest squads in the history of basketball, taking on the top seeded team from the regular season led by James Harden, a man that has dominated and should win MVP. It looks like it’s inevitable now. Let’s just hope it’s as entertaining as we imagine it will be.