The Houston Rockets were in prime position to advance to the NBA Finals, but a twist of fate late in a Game 5 win will leave the organization pondering what might have been over a long offseason.
Paul suffered a hamstring injury that forced him out of the final two games of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors, and the Rockets’ offense sputtered in his absence. In a Game 7 loss, Houston missed 27 straight three-pointers–as the Rockets could generate little else on offense.
Paul, who has long been questioned for his play in big games, emerged as the most important player for the Rockets in a series they once led 3-2. His injury, unfortunately, will cast a shadow over the loss–which comes on the heels of a wildly successful 65-win regular season.
"It sucks because you know you could win this series if we just had one more playmaker," Gordon told reporters after losing Game 7 101-92. "If we had Chris, if he was out there, we'd have been playing on Thursday. It's just tough."
Head coach Mike D’Antoni echoed Gordon’s sentiments, as both D’Antoni and Paul have long been known for being snake-bitten in the playoffs. They did everything right this year, though. The Rockets will have to shoot for 2018-19 to correct what they surely feel is a wrong.
The Warriors will host Game 1 of the NBA Finals on May 31 at Oracle Arena. The series will shift to Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena for Game 3.
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