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Rockets vs. Warriors is everything we wanted

We have that and more in Tuesday’s NBA newsletter.

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Folks, we have another classic playoff series between the Warriors and Rockets. It wasn’t clear we’d get something to remember back when Houston stumbled out of the gate months ago and when Golden State struggled to put away the Clippers in the first round, but here we are. James Harden had 38 points as Houston evened the series, 2-2, Monday night.

Kevin Durant was excellent again (he’s been so consistent in the playoffs) and Stephen Curry had a solid night that included a critical three-pointer late to stress all viewers out and force the Rockets to hit free throws. But both Durant and Curry missed open threes to tie the game before the final buzzer — Durant’s attempt off of a sideline out-of-bounds play was shockingly open. Houston held on.

This series feels like it’s going all the way, and we know that the series between these teams went all the way last year. There is one big difference: the winner of this series won’t be the presumptive NBA champion — the Bucks look wonderful right now, and either the Sixers or Raptors could give the West champs a tough run in the Finals, if they get there. Plus, two grueling playoff series could really soften up the Warriors in the West finals against the Nuggets or Blazers, and the Rockets wouldn’t be overwhelming favorites against either.


Bucks 113, Celtics 101
Milwaukee leads series 3-1

Warriors 108, Rockets 112
Series tied 2-2


Sixers at Raptors, 8 ET, TNT
Series tied 2-2

Blazers at Nuggets, 10:30 ET, TNT
Series tied 2-2


The Bucks lost Game 1 at home, signaling a Celtics ascendancy ... and then Boston lost three straight, including two at home? Is that right? And now Kyrie Irving is talking a little wild again? Yikesville, Massachusetts. Giannis Antetokounmpo is truly something to behold. Zach Lowe on the Bucks’ win.

Michael Pina on Eric Gordon as the other irreplaceable Rocket.

Ty Lue is the apparent choice for the Lakers, with Frank Vogel potentially joining as his lead assistant.

Word to P.J. Tucker, who really did build his own NBA career by becoming a tough, elite defender and is now relishing try to slow down Kevin Durant.

Are we sure there’s only one L in Paul Pierce’s name because he sure does seem to attract them?

Dave McMenamin on the Sixers’ traveling training room.

Candace Buckner on the historic lack of accountability inside the Wizards.

Kevin O’Connor on the Xs and Os tweaks that could change each series.

DeMarcus Cousins expects to play again this postseason.

What Draymond Green’s alley-oops tell us about his ability to read help defense.

The Big 3 looks amazing this year, and they are going to broadcast live. Ricky O’Donnell graded the teams.

Kawhi Leonard’s playoff domination is so effortless. He’s also the most earnest player in the sport. Chris Herring compares him to The Terminator.

I wrote about how no one knows where two of the NBA’s biggest stars will play next season, and how it speaks to the NBA’s competitive balance and fluidity.

This is some sport. Andrew Keh is a brilliant writer.

Lonzo Ball changed Chino Hills basketball forever.

We’re watching the greatest NBA tweeter in history in his prime. Appreciate that.

Be excellent to each other.