HOUSTON – Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni spoke to the media on Tuesday morning before the team departed Houston ahead of their biggest game of the season thus far.
After a 112-108 Game 4 win to even the series 2-2, the Rockets proved once again, against a more talented Warriors team, that they want it more and were willing to play harder than Golden State for 48 minutes.
D’Antoni knows it will take an even bigger effort in Game 5 Wednesday to win at Oracle Arena.
“Every play is monumental. Can you play 48 minutes without relaxing on a certain play? The ball goes to the post, do you get into your man on the perimeter because you know they’re going to shoot threes? Or do your legs just kind of go slack and you look and it’s too late? These guys will punish you if you’re not mentally prepared to do whatever it takes 48 minutes. They’ll beat you,” D'Antoni said.
Austin Rivers has proved to be a key guard for the Rockets this postseason. This series alone, he has scored 32 points off the bench, even with missing the first game due to illness. However, Rivers' impact can’t be measured by scoring alone. D’Antoni said it’s his toughness that makes him such an asset in the playoffs.
“His toughness. He’s got an edge to him. He competes every play," D'Antoni said. "He wants to play every play. He doesn’t get tired. He played 30-something last night and he wants to play more. He wants to be out there. He’s not afraid to take those big shots. He’s not afraid to do a big drive. Another guy who’s not afraid of the moment.”
To put into perspective how insanely close this series has been, there is just one point separating the series through all four games.
The Warriors have scored 448 total points while the Rockets have scored 447 total points. On Wednesday night in Oakland, the Rockets have to keep playing with desperation in hopes to get the win and take a 3-2 series lead back to Houston for the chance to close it on their home court and avoid another trip to the Bay Area.