Chris Paul finally reaches conference finals as Rockets advance

Dante Exum was injured in the second half of Game 4

Hours later, the Jazz would be on the losing end of both the game and the series, as an impressive Donovan Mitchell-inspired season came to an end.

Several hours before the Utah Jazz took to the court against the Houston Rockets in game five of their Western Conference semi-finals, veteran guard Thabo Sefolosha sat on one of the plush courtside seats and intently watched a few young players engage in a one-on-one game. It will take tweaking what they have, to get where they're going. "I'm going to put us on my back", James Harden said. "You've got to have guys like that if you're going to win". "If he has that look in his eyes ... he's a problem". They beat Oklahoma City in six games to reach the Western Conference semifinals, where they lost 4-1 to the Houston Rockets.

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The Rockets averaged just over 117 points per game against the Warriors in the regular season, but Golden State outscored Houston 353-352 in the three games combined.

Paul is a nine-time All-Star in his first season with Houston after an offseason trade from the Los Angeles Clippers.

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The Jazz later said Mitchell exited with left foot soreness. At the close of last year's Finals, Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey was famously quoted as saying he'd have to "up his risk profile" if his team was to compete with Golden State. Houston quickly regrouped, putting the boots to Utah in Game 3 then leading wire to wire in Game 4 before putting the series away with some hot outside shooting late in Game 5. Houston set a franchise record with 65 wins in the regular season, went 2-1 against the Warriors in games that were hyped at the time though seem meaningless now, and has the likely MVP in James Harden. Paul was seen as a flawless point guard for head coach Mike D'Antoni's run-and-gun system, but how would he handle splitting ball-handling duties with Harden? But when asked what was wrong with him, Harden said he was fine.

Paul and D'Antoni also blended their shot selection, as D'Antoni said they would. The Rockets survived significant injuries to Paul and others to take the top seed in the West. "James was under the weather so we were just trying to pick him up". Series victor to the NBA Finals, series loser will undoubtedly feel like they let a championship ring slip away. Sure. Golden State has possibly the most incredible combination of four players in National Basketball Association history, but as we learned before Kevin Durant landed after a 73-win regular season, simply assuming the Warriors will win the title is a venture best avoided. They went from playing lackluster defense at times, to being No. 1 in the league in defensive efficiency in the playoffs. All was forgotten after winning the next three games by double digits themselves, setting up the showdown that begins this upcoming weekend. They finished the regular season averaging 1.336 points per Cut possession [5] and 1.131 points per Off Screen possession [1], and though their efficiency in both areas has dipped slightly in the postseason, their usage has climbed. "We are still taking steps toward that, but this is an accomplishment". "I didn't think that this would fit when these two guys first joined forces", Pippen said. This one is going to be a tough, uphill battle but you know the series victor is likely a heavy favorite in the NBA Finals.

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The Jets lead that series 3-2 heading into Game 6 on Monday night. "We have showed we can play on the road at both places. Play went on for 25 more seconds before the buzzer rang, with the situation room in Toronto calling for a video review.


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