Programming note: Watch "Warriors Playoff Central" Monday at 5 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, and immediately after the final horn in Game 4. Both shows will be streamed live right here. CHANNEL LISTINGS
HOUSTON – The Warriors did it to the Pelicans in New Orleans, did it to the Grizzlies in Memphis and they’ll try to do it to the Rockets on Monday night at Toyota Center.
That is, send another team into its offseason.
Holding a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference Finals, the Warriors can eliminate Houston in Game 4. Otherwise, it’s on to Game 5 on Wednesday night in the comfortable setting of Oracle Arena.
“Don’t want to go back home and do it,” forward Draymond Green declared Sunday. “Want to do it right now.”
That was the mindset before the Warriors took the court to practice at Rice University Sunday morning. Coming off their most impressive win of the playoffs, they want to stay hot enough to advance at the earliest possible date.
They finished their sweep of the Pelicans at Smoothie King Center, went into FedEx Forum in Memphis to oust the Grizzlies in six games. It’s almost as if the Warriors get recharged at the sight of a reeling prey.
“That’s how these guys think,” associate head coach Alvin Gentry said. “They want to close it out. Now. They’re feeling it and they want to finish it. Trust me, they don’t want this thing to go on any longer than it needs to, so I’m pretty sure they’ll come out wanting to put it away as soon as possible.”
There can be a sense of security when a team has a 3-0 lead facing Game 4 on the road – or when team knows it needs only one win and has at least one more game at home. The Clippers, with a 3-1 lead going into Game 5 at Houston in the conference semifinals, may have fallen into that trap.
It cost them. Los Angeles lost Game 5 at Houston, then Game 6 in LA and then Game 7 in Houston.
But these Warriors are not those Clippers. The Clippers also blew 19-point lead in that fateful Game 6 at Staples Center. When the Warriors, who led Game 3 by as much as 26, sensed a Rockets revival – they cut it 18 – the Warriors needed only seven minutes to push the lead to 31.
Yet head coach Steve Kerr, who was on five championship teams during his playing career, expressed a note of caution.
“On the road, the closeout games are hard,” he said. “But that’s all part of the playoffs. You’re playing great teams. You’re playing in difficult circumstances. Things are not going to go your way, and you just fight through all of that. The main way to do that is just by locking in on all of the details.”
All signs point to the Warriors staying on task, something that for most is easier to do on the road, away from the demands and obligations of home.
It’s just basketball, and after a 35-point win in Game 3 the Warriors can almost touch the finish line to this series.
“This is a team that if you give them any confidence,” Green said of the Rockets, “they can take it and run with it.
“You don’t want to give anybody any hope and confidence. All it takes is one win to boost confidence. So we want to take care of business at the first opportunity. In the first couple series we’ve done a good job of that.”