HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – There’s no doubting the significance of Sunday’s Game Seven between the Rockets and Clippers.
Houston could become the ninth team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 series deficit to advance. During Thursday night’s Game Six, the Rockets faced elimination, trailing by as many as 19 points in the third quarter. Yet, the Rockets’ season is still ongoing.
“(That) last game was a blessing,” Dwight Howard said. “It felt like ‘Angels in the Outfield’ – except, the basketball version. Just unbelievable.”
“I saw a team that just didn’t want to quit,” Kevin McHale said. “I saw a bunch of guys that really rallied together. I saw five guys that just really played their tail off. And whether good things happened or bad things, they just kept grinding and playing and those guys did a remarkable job of banding together, fighting, and just extending our season to where we have a chance to play tomorrow.”
And if the Rockets win , they would have their first Western Conference Finals berth since 1997.
“It’s either win or go home,” Howard said. “I’m not ready to go on vacation. I’ve been in the league for too long. It hurts to give your all and to see somebody else hold the trophy, so we’ve got to leave it all on the floor.”
With all that’s on the line, McHale prefers a simplified approach to Game Seven.
“We’ve got to win a game,” the Rockets head coach said. “We’re not playing (Game) Five again, thank goodness. We’re not playing (Game) Six again, thank goodness. We’re playing (Game) Seven. We’ve just got to go win a basketball game at home. We’ve got one home game to win. We had one road game to win, as I said before the last road game. Now, we have one home game to win.”
Still, harkening back to his playing days, McHale does understand the difference of what it’s like to play a Game Seven.
“The art of the whole thing is you’re excited to play the game,” McHale said. “It was another chance to play basketball. It’s Game Seven. It’s fun, man. That’s what you live for. You live for those moments to go out there and play basketball. There’s a joy and a calm that comes over you when you do something really, really well and you’re doing something you’ve done since you were a little kid. You find that spot and you play well. And it’s up to every individual to find that spot where there’s just joy in playing that. You get older, you never do that again. It’s been a long, long time (since) I played, but I still remember the feeling of going to the game and the butterflies and the anxiousness of can’t waiting to get going. When you have that, good things happen.”