— Shomari Stone (@shomaristone) May 28, 2015
It’s been a long 40 years, but the wait is finally over; the Golden State Warriors are going to the NBA Finals after eliminating the Houston Rockets by a score of 104-90 in Game 5 Wednesday night. After getting out to a slow start for the second consecutive game, the Warriors went on to win the final three quarters to clinch their first trip to the NBA Finals since the 1974-75 season. Stephen Curry filled the stat sheet with 26 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five steals, Harrison Barnes scored 13 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, while Klay Thompson added 20 points of his own as the Warriors eliminated the Rockets in five games.
After suffering their worst first quarter of the Shot Clock era in Game 4, the Warriors fared better in the first frame on Wednesday night, but not necessarily because they played well. The Rockets jumped out to an 8-2 lead, as the Warriors struggled to get shots to fall right out of the gate. The Dubs would fight back to retake a 10-9 lead with 5:36 left in the quarter, but Houston responded with an 11-2 run to increase their lead to eight points with just over two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the period. Stephen Curry scored the next five points of the contest before James Harden sank two free throws with four seconds left to send the game into the second quarter with the Rockets leading 22-17. Neither side performed all that well in the opening frame, as the Dubs shot 22 percent from the floor with six turnovers, while the Rockets didn’t fare much better at 30 percent and seven turnovers.
That trend changed immediately upon the beginning of the second quarter, as the Warriors sank five of their first seven shots to go on a 13-2 run in the first three-and-a-half minutes to reclaim a 30-24 lead. Unfortunately for Houston, that was a lead the Warriors didn’t relinquish for the duration of the game. Time and time again, the Rockets would attempt to crest the hill, only to see the Warriors respond with timely baskets to keep them at bay. After that early Golden State surge, the two teams traded baskets for more than the next six minutes until Curry followed a Harrison Barnes’ three-pointer with a trey of his own at the 2:50 mark to put the Warriors up 44-36. The two sides would maintain the difference the rest of the way, sending the game into halftime with the Warriors holding a 52-46 advantage. At the time, both teams were shooting 37 percent from the field, but the Warriors had the advantage in the rebounding (33 to 19) and turnover (9 to 11) battles – trends that would continue through the conclusion of the game.
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