Tuesday night at Toyota Center, the Rockets will attempt to close out their first round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but after being pushed to the brink by blowing a 14-point third quarter lead in game four Sunday, the Rockets know the Thunder won’t go down quietly.
“It’s not gonna be easy,” Rockets guard James Harden said. “They’re gonna come in and pretty much give it their all, and go down with a fight.”
Harden’s Rockets will enter game leading the series 3-1, but after a game one blowout, the last three games have been tight, with both games in Oklahoma City coming down to the last seconds.
“(We) shouldn’t be complacent because we’ve barely survived them,” Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We have to have the right mindset tomorrow night.”
The only way the Rockets won’t advance to the Western Conference semifinals is if they lose the next three games, something that happened during the regular, and two of those games came against the Golden State Warriors, but still a 3-1 lead is far from insurmountable, just ask the Thunder, who saw a 3-1 series advantage disappear in last year’s Western Conference Finals.
“The hardest thing to do in sports is close a series out,” D’Antoni said. “We all know that. We can talk about all the clichés and everything, but we gotta win this game for all kinds of reasons.”
A loss Tuesday forces the Rockets to go back to Oklahoma City for game six on Thursday, which opens up the possibility of a game seven Saturday at Toyota Center.
“Hopefully, we’ll have the right mindset,” D’Antoni said. “We have to start the games better, we haven’t done that yet, so there’s a lot of things we can improve on and do, but we also know that we’re going to take their best shot tomorrow, and we have to be ready to respond.”