The Golden State Warriors put on an offensive clinic during the third quarter of Game 4 to overcome a halftime deficit and build a 10-point lead over the Houston Rockets. As the clock ticked down to zero, Stephen Curry dribbled around and attempted a long three that would have likely sealed the game. It missed the mark.
But, oh well, right? Surely the Warriors’ blitzkrieg would continue for the final 12 minutes, they’d take a 3-1 series lead and breeze onto a fourth straight NBA Finals.
Steve Kerr’s squad was visited by the Ghost of Playoff Past at the worst time. What happened next was shades of 2016, when the Warriors were held to 11 measly first-quarter points by the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. We thought we’d never see this offensive juggernaut flounder like that again.
Golden State scored a paltry 12 points on 3-for-18 shooting in the fourth quarter, allowing the Rockets to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat — even while playing some lackluster ball themselves. It was weird and kind of spooky. And it may turn out to haunt the franchise for years to come should the series go Houston’s way.
Again, forecasting gloom and doom for the Warriors is a fool’s errand. But facts don’t care about your feelings, per the best people on the internet. The Rockets have two of the next three games at home. They won’t be the side playing with pressure. That’s a fact.
Now for the feeling: things feel different now. It feels as though James Harden and Chris Paul exorcised some demons last night. It feels as though they buried the narrative they can’t win the big one. That grave may be a shallow one, of course.
Because one never knows when a ghost of yesterday will raise up and bring gloom and doom. If it can happen to the sweetest shooting team in league history, it can happen to anyone.