Golden State and Houston, easily the most anticipated series of the season after an epic 7-game Western Conference Finals last year. The games certainly haven’t played out how expected, but there is no surprise to see Golden State with a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6. Tonight is a must-win for the Rockets, who will have a much easier time playing at home against a short-handed Warriors team.
 Golden State Warriors (3-2) @  Houston Rockets (2-3)
Golden State looked ready to blow Game 5 wide open, but Houston’s tenacity and their pesky 3-point shooting managed to get them back in the game. Giving them an even bigger opportunity was an injury suffered by Kevin Durant, a non-contact injury that looked like it might be an achilles tear, but was later reported to be a calf strain. While it is good news that his injury is only minor, he won’t play in the rest of this series, which gives the Rockets a much better chance.
The Warriors were largely relying on the production of Kevin Durant yet again in Game 5 until he immediately left the game after a non-contact injury to the back of his right leg. Without their leading scorer, Golden State was able to rely on Curry and Thompson for crucial scoring down the stretch. While the Warriors have lost one of their two MVPs, and definitely the one who has been performing most, they may be just as potent without him in Game 6 as other stars will have more room to operate with.
- The Warriors were pretty good on offense, shooting 39-85 from the field (45.9%) and 13-37 (35.1%) from beyond the arc, but they did have 28 assists. Unfortunately they had 15 turnovers to match the Rockets.
- Golden State still has no help from their bench, which may spell disaster without KD. Their bench scored just 11 points in Game 5, not much worse than 19 that came from the Rockets.
- Who will make up for Durant’s absence? He had 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists before departing in Game 5, and averaged 33.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.4 assists for the series.
The Rockets have scrapped their way back into this series, and Game 5 seemed to encapsulate that pretty well. The first quarter was outright ugly, as the Warriors finished with a lead of 31-17, but behind excellent hustle from PJ Tucker and timely shots from behind the arc, the Rockets made the game interesting, especially as Kevin Durant left the game. Now that they’ll play at home for Game 6, they’re certainly favorites to beat the Warriors tonight without KD.
- Houston’s offense was simply stagnant and their shooting was poor in Game 5. They shot just 33-79 (41.8%) from the field, 12-41 (29.3%) from downtown, and had just 19 assists, an awful number when you realize they also had 15 team turnovers.
- CP3 continues to be unreliably offensively, finishing with just 11 points and 6 assists on 3-14 shooting last game.
- Austin Rivers was also a non-factor in Game 5, as he tallied just 2 points and 2 assists in 24 minutes.
Pick: Golden State Warriors +7.0
Tonight will undoubtedly be Golden State’s biggest test of the year and their hardest outing by far. Without their most important player (this year), they’ll have to rely on their other stars that seem comfortable letting Durant shoulder a bigger share of the offense. 2015 clearly showed us that the Golden State core of Curry-Thompson-Green-Iguodala is entirely capable of winning a championship without KD. Tonight is the best chance Houston will have to win in this series, but Chris Paul has not been good and it seems like an excellent night for a scintillating performance by the Splash Brothers. Houston may be favored, but your best bet is on Golden State winning the series tonight.