It has come down to this.
The winner of Game 7 between the
The path the Rockets took to get here was unsettling, but they stayed the course when they were down 3-1 in the best-of-seven second-round series and when they trailed by 19 points Thursday in an elimination game in Los Angeles.
Houston withstood it all to tie the series at 3-3 and is in position to reach the conference finals for the first time since 1997, where it would face the
"Nothing is going to be given to us,"
The series has given mental anguish to both teams.
Houston lost Game 3 by 25 points, Game 4 by 33, and yet has an opportunity to become just the ninth team in
The Clippers are staring at the wrong side of history, blowing two chances to close out the series, blowing their 3-1 lead in the series and blowing a big lead in the sixth game.
"There's going to be adversity," Houston Coach
The home team has won Game 7 of the
"It's cool to have it here,"
The Rockets and Clippers had been playing every other day in the series, testing their endurance.
But they took two days off between Games 6 and 7, neither team practicing Friday before going back to work Saturday to prepare for the biggest game of this series, of their season.
The time off was opportune for
"That little extra day helped me relax, get my body right and get my sickness away a little bit," Harden said. "Like I said, it's all or nothing" on Sunday.
The Rockets will need Howard to remain composed to improve their chances of winning.
He has three technical fouls, one ejection and one flagrant foul in the series.
"Sometimes I let the emotions get the best of me," Howard said. "But I just want to win. That's my only goal. Whatever you put in, that's what you're going to get out. It's either win or go home, and I'm not ready to go on vacation."