Rockets, Warriors advance to Western Conference finals

NBA playoff MVPs – Ranking LeBron, Harden, Durant and more stars

Then the one (Chris Paul) shot up against the backboard.

It's been more than 11 years since CP3 played his final game in Oklahoma City colors, for the 2006-07 Hornets, who went back to New Orleans. The closest thing to Jason Kidd or John Stockton that the contemporary game provided.

Of those 20 previous teams that achieved that feat, 15 eventually won the championship. Western Conference finals, Golden State versus Houston, Game 1 on Monday on the Rockets' home floor.

George Springer kept up his hitting surge with two hits and two RBIs, Alex Bregman homered and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 4-2 on Tuesday night. He was a throw-it-in-the-hoop shooting guard.

On Tuesday night, with Harden struggling, Chris Paul showed that he is the extra superstar that Houston was previously missing. The least expensive game of the series looks to be Game 2 in Houston, at $683, followed by Game 1 at Houston ($783). And Paul, if you somehow haven't heard, will now play in the first conference finals of his 13-year career. It was a formula built to stop Golden State, but one that also took care of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Jazz in five games each. But Paul didn't let the Rockets falter. Paul scored a career-playoff high of 41 points, while Tucker scored 19.

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Houston scored its final three runs with a big boost from the final four hitters.

Rookie Donovan Mitchell led Utah with 24 points but departed with an injury at the 7:09 mark of the fourth quarter and did not return. The Jazz, incredibly, pulled within 97-96 with 4-1/2 minutes remaining. He focused on getting ahead of batters and then used his arsenal of two-seam and four-seam fastballs, curveball and changeup to silence the Giants' bats. The consummate point guard became a ball-dominant shotmaker.

"He was unbelievable", Harden said afterwards.

Curry went 10 for 16 in 37 minutes playing his fourth game back from a sprained left knee he hurt March 23. On offense, Capela commands his lengthy, Giannis Antetokounmpo-like body to new heights, as he averages the third-best field goal percentage in the National Basketball Association.

In short, both sets of numbers are tremendous (if not eerily similar) and, considering Paul's overall profile as a regular season player doesn't appear to be in question, it is odd that his individual playoff performance has been. He got in his bag and he called everybody off. "You still listen to all the talking heads, and they all say, 'Oh, it's probably going to be 100 percent Golden State (winning it all)...(but) we don't know what's going to happen come May or June'".

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