The best-of-7 series returns to Houston tied two games apiece. Houston was already operating on a thin margin; the Rockets have essentially employed a six-man rotation the past two games, with Gerald Green getting about 15 minutes as the seventh man.
"He's feeling a little better today", head coach Steve Kerr said. Then after the Rockets' Trevor Ariza missed a free throw, the Warriors got possession only to have Eric Gordon steal the ball away from Draymond Green - ultimately sealing the game for Houston.
In Game 5, we saw a total shift in bench deployment - David West played almost a full quarter and Quinn Cook was on the floor in crunch time - as well as a continuation of the Warriors' offensive woes, which unmistakenly manifested themselves in the fourth quarter of the team's second straight loss.
"We still winning this", Golden State's confident power forward said, as reported by The Athletic. He started 30 games this season while Paul and James Harden dealt with injuries. Instead, they have Cook, who played two minutes in the second quarter of Game 4 because of foul trouble for Curry, and only appeared in garbage time in Games 2 and 3 before that. They deserve all of the credit for that. The Rockets will give an update on his status Friday.
Durant and Curry are taking more than half of Golden State's shots, as opposed to 41 percent during the regular season.
"It will not change anything that we do or how we do it", D'Antoni said.
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It's not like Houston hasn't had its own adversity to deal with.
Paul had been playing with a nagging right foot injury but said the pain had diminished between games three and four at Golden State.
But the bigger problem, and one Golden State will have to get ironed out to win this series, is Durant's penchant for going 1-on-1 so much, to the point where he and his teammates get tunnel vision.
The Rockets are that matchup.
It's not on the players to figure out this puzzle as they go. A fourth chapter of the Golden State-Cleveland rivalry is in serious jeopardy as both squads stare at 3-2 deficits in their respective series, with neither having home-court advantage.