OAKLAND, Calif. — By simply uttering a total of six words, rival point guards Chris Paul and Stephen Curry both insisted they’ll be up to speed Sunday night when the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors meet in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.
The two top guns in the West split games at Houston, with Golden State, the defending NBA champion, prevailing 119-106 in Game 1 before the Rockets, the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs, got even with a 127-105 thrashing in Game 2.
The best-of-seven series shifts to Oakland, where the Warriors have won 15 straight playoff games, equaling the Chicago Bulls in 1990-91 as the longest streak in NBA history.
The clubs met just once in Oakland during the regular season, with the Rockets starting their 67-win campaign with a 122-121 victory on Opening Night.
Neither Paul nor Curry has been a big factor in the first two games of the series that will determine the Western Conference representative in the NBA Finals. The Warriors have advanced to the championship series in each of the last three seasons, winning two titles.
Curry missed Golden State’s 4-1 victory over San Antonio in the first round of the playoffs and then the opener against New Orleans in the second round with a sprained left MCL. He has started the last five games but has been well below his usual high standard in the first two against the Rockets, averaging 17.0 points while missing 11 of 13 3-point shots.
The Rockets also have attacked Curry on defense, prompting many to question the former two-time Most Valuable Player’s health.
“I’m feeling great,” Curry said in the aftermath of the Game 2 loss.
Paul has outscored Curry 39-34 in the series and been more efficient, but also has struggled from long range, shooting just 3 of 12 on 3-pointers.
He was seen limping late in the Game 2 win, during which he was just the Rockets’ fifth-leading scorer, again leading to speculation about a possible calf or Achilles injury afterward.
“I’ll be cool,” he said.
In a duel of the league’s two highest scoring offenses, the team that shot the best prevailed in each of the first two meetings.
With Kevin Durant going 14 of 27 from the field in a 37-point effort, the Warriors outshot the Rockets 52.5 percent to 45.9 in the Game 1 win.
The Rockets countered in Game 2 with a more balanced approach, with Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker and Trevor Ariza combining to go 23 of 33, accounting for 68 of Houston’s 127 points in the win. Houston shot 51.1 percent in the win.
The Warriors, who lost just once in four playoff series en route to the championship last year, suffered their third loss of the 2018 postseason in Game 2. They have rebounded to win by a total of 34 points in the game after each of their first two losses.
The Rockets, meanwhile, had the best road record in the NBA during the regular season (31-10), and have won three of four on the road in their first two playoff series.
The Warriors, who held home-court advantage in every series the past three seasons, will be hosting a Game 3 for the first time since 2014. They lost that game 98-96 to the Los Angeles Clippers, with Paul contributing 15 points and 10 assists to the winning effort.