Obviously the Jazz biggest success story was Mitchell, who became the first rookie in 13 years to lead a playoff team in scoring. The Warriors defeated the Pelicans, 113-104. The Rockets have suffered one loss at home and one on the road during the playoffs. It's the second consecutive season the Jazz lost in this round after being swept by Golden State last season. But they aren't likely to slip into Houston-Golden State territory without more firepower.
The assessment made here with this Westgate posting is that had the Warriors been healthy all season, they'd have certainly been the top seed in the Western Conference.
Golden State will have the full services of Stephen Curry, who was hampered by injuries at the end of the season, preventing him from playing against San Antonio in Round 1 and the first game of the 5-game Pelicans semifinal series.
Will Chris Paul Win A Ring With The Houston Rockets?
David Griffin put together the last roster that beat the Warriors in the postseason. So far, so good.
Houston is 0-2 in playoff series against Golden State. Their greatest margin of victory was 21 points, their lowest, 10. And neither of them are spring chicken: Harden is 28 and Paul is 33. When their quartet of All Stars are firing on all cylinders, the Warriors don't need much from the rest of the group. Curry and Paul can go blow for blow while Harden and Klay Thompson do the same, and these games are going to be won around the perimeter.
But how this Houston season will be remembered hinges largely on the outcome of this series.
Curry missed over a month of action late in the season nursing a knee injury, an unfortunate asterisk on what has otherwise been the most efficient scoring regular season of the two-time Most Valuable Player's National Basketball Association career. The Rockets have won both of their playoff series in five games. Series victor to the NBA Finals, series loser will undoubtedly feel like they let a championship ring slip away. Paul has been deadly off the dribble this season and has also scored the ball with impressive consistency in limited opportunities as a set shooter and finisher. The Houston Rockets front office did a really good job surrounding Paul with great shooters and defensive role players. There is nothing attractive about James Harden moving slightly in front of a defender to earn three shots at the line, there is nothing handsome about P.J. Tucker or Eric Gordon extinguishing the Jazz's playoff life, there is nothing lovely about seeing Chris Paul hit midrange, elbow jumper after midrange, elbow jumper. They hit 79.5 percent at the charity stripe.
Game 1 is scheduled for Monday night in Houston.
On the season, the Rockets attempted and made more 3-pointers than any other team in the league, resulting in a still efficient team-percentage of 36 percent from beyond the arc.
Paul, a nine-time All-Star in his first season with Houston after an offseason trade from the Los Angeles Clippers, also had 10 assists and seven rebounds. Clint Capela (five points, five boards, three steals, five blocks) and Eric Gordon (two of eight, eight points) were non-factors offensively: they will have to step things up against the Warriors as it will be all hands on deck for the Rockets.