Paul's status in doubt for Game 7

Paul's status in doubt for Game 7

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (left) and guard Chris Paul (right) on the bench against the Golden State Warriors in the second half in game six of the Western conference finals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena.

The Warriors won Game 6 against the Rockets without Paul, though it required them to overcome a 17-point deficit. But with Paul out, that thinking led Mike D'Antoni to playing Harden for the entire third quarter in Game 6.

Paul played a major role in the Rockets' last two victories, averaging 23.5 points in those two wins, but strained his hamstring in the final minute of Game 5. For Harden especially, Saturday's game had to be a stark reminder of how hard his life was without Chris Paul. Stephen Curry led the way with 14 points in the frame - only one fewer than the Rockets - and hit 4 of 5 3s, including one with 3:58 remaining in the quarter that gave Golden State the lead for good.

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Shooting 49.4 percent from the floor, including 16 of 38 on 3-pointers while producing 26 assists on 43 field goals, the Warriors again featured the offense that ran roughshod over the National Basketball Association. For the game, Houston shot just 40 percent, missed 24 threes, and committed 21 turnovers.

The Warriors will host LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game One on Thursday night in the fourth straight matchup between the teams. It will be a summer of what-could-have-been for the Rockets, who couldn't finish off the Warriors without Paul after putting them on the ropes.

The Cavs and Celtics played game seven of the Eastern Conference finals in Boston on Sunday - the first time since 1979 that both the Eastern and Western finals went seven games. They've responded to adversity at every turn in this series, and there's no reason to think they can't do so again in Game 7. Though he shot only 6-of-19 from the field in Game 5, Paul scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half.

More news: Warriors take control in 3rd quarter, never look back

How many more times must Morey tweak the Rockets here in the Harden era before Houston finally strikes gold.

The second half belonged to Golden State.

With a roster including four all-stars in their primes - and, likely, one day headed to the Hall of Fame - in a league where no other team has more than two, Golden State was expected to walk into this season and romp to a championship as it did last season.

More news: Even LeBron James might not be able to save these Cleveland Cavaliers

It has yet to be determined how long Paul would be sidelined if the Rockets advance to the Finals. Head coach Steve Kerr wasn't particularly thrilled to talk about it.

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