It’s time for Game 5: Part 2.
Most of the talk after the boycott was about how a delayed Game 5 benefited Houston more than the Thunder. After all, Russell Westbrook has been given an extra three days to rest his injured quadriceps. Houston has also lost two straight games, so even with a less than 100% version of Russ the Rockets stand to gain from the reset.
That line of thinking is liable to get the Rockets in trouble. Obviously, Russ can attack the lanes that Harden creates with his gravity, but it’s up to Westbrook to finish the drives and it’s up to Houston’s shooters to make shots throughout the game rather than just in the opening minutes of the third quarter.
Defensively, Houston has to close off driving lanes better and prevent paint penetration from Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dennis Schroder. James Harden seemed to find some solutions for Lu Dort in Game 4 before exhaustion got up to him in the fourth quarter. It’s exactly those moments that Westbrook can make a difference for Houston.
Game 5s of a 2-2 series are always a big deal. This is no different.
Tip-off is at 5:30pm CT on AT&T SportsNet Southwest and TNT