SportsPulse: We have a series now. USA TODAY Sports & # 39; Martin Rogers breaks the Rockets' win over the Warriors in Game 3 and what it means for the series.
HOUSTON – Austin Rivers and PJ Tucker, two increasingly influential gears in the Houston Rockets' machine, explained their team's plan after reducing their series deficit against the Golden State Warriors to 2-1 on Saturday night .
Your mission: to turn this exciting semifinal of the Western Conference into a basketball war.
Rivers did not hit on the court in a win in overtime and was equally frank when he spoke later. He wants his colleagues to combine each and every one of what they see as the questionable physical tricks of the Warriors, and to do so with more badertiveness and venom.
"Simply (be) physical because that's what they do," Rivers said, when asked about the value of an ultra-intense approach. "(The Warriors) move away, they pull, if you're not looking, they'll literally push you right in front of the referee, and then they'll open three.
"They are a very aggressive team. I thought we were aggressive (in Game 3) and the (referees) will not call them all. You have to be aggressive in the playoffs. "
Rockets guard Austin Rivers celebrates after scoring a three-pointer during the fourth quarter against the Warriors in Game 3 of his second-round series. (Photo: Troy Taormina, USA Today Sports)
Rivers' details of the team's new mentality were backed by Tucker, who harbaded his Warriors rivals when they competed for rebounds (collecting 12 of them) during Saturday's 126-121 victory.
Tucker was seen on several occasions extolling more of his teammates' advantage on the court and believes that the two-time defending champions can be thrown out of their game if Houston increases things a little more.
"We have to fight," Tucker said. "To beat them you have to fight until the last second, fight for each possession, fight for every 50-50 balls throughout the game.
"We have to play harder than this, we win but it's not enough, be more aggressive, be closer to Steph Curry when he dribbles, enters (Kevin Durant) when he dribbles, hits people in the boxes. "
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Each of the three games so far has been fiercely contested, but Game 3 was the most physical of all, despite the fact that the previous game saw James Harden with a bloody eye and blurred vision after being swept by Draymond Green. Tucker himself has a divided eyelid, but he does not remember what game he got it for, and he took it as if it was not a big problem. Compared to Harden's scarlet eyeball, scary enough to make you want to keep your children close, it may not be.
While much of the initial focus was on arbitration, there have been no such complaints recently. The series has become a survival of the fittest, Houston is enjoying the challenge and the Warriors know they need to respond.
"Just get ready for another battle," said Andre Iguodala, when asked about his thinking on Monday's Game 4. "It was expected (physical), they did a good job of responding and taking advantage of some things, they're going to keep having that and they'll try to come out with a good hit on Monday."
Houston looked like a toast when they returned to Texas with a two-game deficit and could easily have found themselves in a 3-0 hole. Instead, they have everything to play with and a clear mindset about how they are going to do it.
"We're in a good mood, but nobody was celebrating," Rivers added. "When we came back (to the changing room) we were silent. We are playing the best team in the league and we are trying to be the best team in the league. To do that, the focus has to be high. "Every game will be a dog fight."
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