Despite all odds being stacked against them, the Golden State Warriors eliminated the Houston Rockets in Game 6 with a 118-113 victory.
With the Warriors missing Kevin Durant due to a calf strain and Golden State playing on the road at the Toyota Center, the defending champions relied on a(21 points in the first half), a clutch fourth quarter from Stephen Curry and a surprising performance from the team's bench to eliminate their Western Conference rivals.
Curry led the way with 33 points while Thompson finished the night with 27 points.
Golden State will now face the winner of Game 7 between the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference finals. Here are some major takeaways from Golden State's victory:
The old Warriors
This is no disrespect to Kevin Durant, who is, at this point, pretty indisputably the best player in the NBA. But my goodness are the old Warriors something to behold. They are not perfect. They turn the ball over. They make stupid plays and get in foul trouble. But have you ever seen a team that fights like this?
A few days after Kyrie Irving and the Celtics showed us what it looks like to wither up and die when the going gets tough, the Warriors reminded everyone what the heart of a champion actually looks like. Given the circumstances -- the Durant absence, Curry being held scoreless in the first half, the foul trouble, on the road -- this might very well be the most impressive victory throughout this entire five-year run. Just absolutely incredible.
"Not going to swear tonight. They're giants. They're champions. These guys are a historically good basketball team," head coach Steve Kerr said of his Warriors after the Game 6 win. "You do not do what these guys have done without an incredible combination of talent and character."
Stephen Curry is a god
Curry has never struggled with his shot like this. For five games against Houston he was shooting 26 percent from 3. He went 0-for-5 in the first half and was held scoreless. He looked awful. That is not an overstatement. Full-blown awful.
So what does he do?
He comes out and scores 33 second-half points, including some monster shots in crunch time. Forget the otherworldly shooting ability -- this is what pure, unabashed confidence looks like. There might not be another player in the world who can go from shooting, and playing, that poorly to flat out dominating in the blink of an eye like he never missed a beat. Just remarkable, the willingness and self-belief to keep playing through those struggles at full speed, no hesitation, against relentless double-teams and traps, with the stakes that high and a world of criticism awaiting him if he didn't turn it around. Never doubt Steph Curry. Ever. Unless you want to look like a fool.
"That game personified Steph Curry," Kerr said after the game. "He's just fearless. That's what makes him who he is."
Can't say it better than that.
Game 6 Klay Thompson
Klay has a history of going off in Game 6s, and he did it again when the Warriors needed it most, finishing with with 27 points, but it was the 21 first-half points that were beyond huge. If Klay doesn't carry the Warriors in the first half while Curry was on the bench with three fouls and zero points, there are no heroics to be had at the end. It would've been over long before that.
Never mind Klay's defense all night. He had some of the most impressive defensive possessions you will ever see in this game. This dude is such a battler it's hard to find the words for it. Unfazed by anything.
Kudos to Chris Paul and James Harden
Especially Paul, who finally had a vintage Chris Paul game with 27 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. He hit 3s. He got into the lane. He gave Harden, who finished with 35 points, the support he needed, and it just wasn't enough. This is as brutal a loss as Paul has ever suffered, and he's suffered some brutal ones. The Rockets did not lose this game, however. The Warriors won it. That's a big distinction that needs to be made.
Recap of live updates
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