The two biggest stories heading into game 6 of the Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets are the key injuries both teams are dealing with.
The Warriors have been without Andre Iguodala for the past two games after his knee banged into James Harden during game 3.
Iguodala has officially been ruled questionable by the team for game 6 due to his left lateral leg contusion. The Warriors have lost both games that Iguodala has missed this series thus far.
While Iguodala could still conceivably play in game 6, the status of Chris Paul has become more concrete. The Rockets have officially ruled out their star point guard for game 6 due to the right hamstring strain he suffered at the end of game 5.
Paul’s status for the rest of this series is unclear at this point. He will travel with the Rockets to Oakland for game 6 and be reevaluated when the team returns to Houston.
Mike D’Antonio said that Eric Gordon would start in Paul’s place and that the rotation could expand to 8 or 9 players due to the Paul injury.
The Rockets have played just 7 players in each of the previous two games this series, both of which resulted in victories for them.
Paul has been sidelined by hamstring injuries at various points in his career, and he has never missed fewer than 2 games with that type of ailment.
Each injury is unique, but past precedent indicates that there’s at least a decent chance Paul will not be back for a game 7 if the Warriors can force one.
Injuries are a part of basketball, and a team can only play the lineup in front of them, but it’s a shame that a series like this isn’t decided with both teams at full strength.
If Iguodala had played these previous two games, it’s likely that the Warriors would have won both games and secured a berth in the NBA Finals.
It remains to be seen how profound of an impact Paul’s absence will have on the Rockets in game 6, but losing a star of that caliber can potentially alter a series.
If the Warriors can win game 6 to force a game 7, all bets are off. Crazy, unpredictable things tend to happen in game 7 atmospheres.
Here’s hoping that both Iguodala and Paul get back on the court as soon as possible. They help make the games between these two squads as compelling as they can possibly be.