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Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors Game 5 preview

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NBA: Playoffs-Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight marks the biggest game in over 20 years for the Houston Rockets.

Not since 1997 have the Rockets played in a meaningful game this late in the postseason. That game ended with John Stockton ending Houston’s season in front of their fans at the old Compaq Center.

Hopefully history doesn’t repeat itself. The Golden State Warriors will try desperately to send the home fans home feeling like the series is over. The magnitude of this game cannot be overstated: handing the Warriors homecourt advantage back and being forced to win again in Oakland is a death sentence for the Rockets. Sure, we know they can win at Oracle, but a little wiggle room is required.

It will be impossible for the Rockets to maintain that same fourth quarter defensive intensity for 48 minutes, but Houston knows the benchmark. They have to play at that level for a couple of stretches. Furthermore, the offense has to keep attacking the basket. Draymond Green and Kevin Durant are deterrents at the rim, but Houston found success attacking the basket at times in Game 4. James Harden in particular used the floater to great effect in the first half. Finally, Houston missed a lot of shots in the fourth quarter but that was more due to fatigue than anything else. The Rockets were getting good looks within their offense, and that’s a great sign.

Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson are questionable to play in Game 5, but at this point we all know that’s bullshit. Both will be available and thanks to the miracles of modern medicine, both will be 100%. The Warriors will start their Death Lineup and those guys will play 40+ minutes if needed.

It’s going to be a fight.

Tip-off is at 8pm CT on TNT