So in Game 5 at home with most of his team struggling, Ginobili turned on the jets with a quick six-point outburst in the first quarter. He kept the Spurs within shouting distance and even staked them to a six-point halftime lead while the likes of Leonard and Patty Mills got their footing.
As long as Ginobili, Tony Parker, and (to a lesser extent) Pau Gasol can bring their best in such short stints, the Spurs will keep marching on through the postseason. It's nights where the vets can't bring it that San Antonio is vulnerable.
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The Rockets are good, but they're not title contenders
Houston took care of business in a five-game series win over the Oklahoma City Thunder — but things were much more difficult for James Harden's team than they should have been.
That the Rockets let the Thunder hang around in every game of this series does not bode well for a potential conference finals meeting with the Warriors, let alone a likely second-round matchup with the Spurs.
Somehow, Oklahoma City's one-man band kept finding ways to score against Houston's porous defense. Although the Rockets were able to finish in the middle of the pack during the regular season, their systemic faults on that end of the court are too easily exploited in the postseason.
A team that moves the ball with any urgency will carve up Houston. Unless the Rockets can just bury the opposition in 3s, the end of the line should come sooner than later.
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Rudy Gobert has the biggest impact in the West of any non-Warrior
Gordon Hayward will get most of the accolades after the Jazz's huge Game 5 win in Los Angeles, and deservedly so. He rebounded from a food-poisoning-tainted Game 4 to play 41 minutes and lead the Jazz with 27 points, just six fewer than the other four starters combined.
Yet Gobert is the reason Utah has a 3-2 series lead headed back to Salt Lake City. He completely negates DeAndre Jordan, one of the NBA's best big men, simply by being larger and doing everything better than the Clippers center. Seeing Gobert on the floor has to be a waking nightmare for Jordan.
You can see the Jazz big man's true impact in the way Chris Paul approaches the game with or without Gobert on the court. Paul flat-out stops attacking the paint when Gobert plays, knowing better than to challenge the Stifle Tower. While CP3 is too good a point guard for the L.A. offense to stall completely in that scenario, those stints are proving the deciding factor in a series that keeps coming down to the final minute of each game.
Gobert's impact doesn't show up in the box score, but no one in the West (outside of Golden State) looms larger in these playoffs.