Warriors favored heavily in do or die Game 6 against Rockets

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OAKLAND -- Needing two wins to avoid elimination, the Warriors hope to cut that number in half Saturday when they face the Rockets in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.

Pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 4:30, with postgame coverage immediately after the final horn. Tipoff of the TNT telecast from Oracle Arena is scheduled for 6 p.m.

While the Warriors hoped forward Andre Iguodala was able to return after a two-game absence, he be out of Game 6. Houston -- which has a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series -- will be without point guard and leader Chris Paul.

BETTING LINE:
Warriors by 12.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Klay Thompson vs. James Harden: With Paul out, Harden bears the full burden as the catalyst of Houston’s offense. His play thus far has been uneven, his 3-point shooting atrocious; he’s in a 0-of-20 slump. He’ll seek mismatches, but Thompson will be the primary defender. On the other end, Thompson’s offense returned in Game 5 after a three-game vacation. His production, particularly off catch-and-shoot releases, is one of the surest signs of the Warriors offense working as designed.

INJURY REPORT:
Warriors: F Andre Iguodala (L lateral leg contusion) is out. G Pat McCaw (lumbar spine contusion) has been upgraded from out to questionable and is expected to be active for Game 6.

Rockets: G Chris Paul (R hamstring strain) is listed as out.

GAME OFFCIALS:
Ken Mauer (crew chief), David Guthrie, Ed Malloy, Bill Kennedy (alternate)

THE TALLY:
Game 1: Warriors 119, Rockets 106 at Houston Game 2: Rockets 127, Warriors 105 at Houston Game 3: Warriors 126, Rockets 85 at Oakland Game 4: Rockets 95, Warriors 92 at Oakland Game 5: Rockets 98, Warriors 94 at Houston

ROAD TO THE CONFERENCE FINALS:
Warriors: Defeated San Antonio in five games in the first round, defeated New Orleans in five games in the conference semifinals.

Rockets: Defeated Minnesota in five games in the first round, defeated Utah in five games in the conference semifinals.

SERIES HISTORY:
The teams met three times in the regular season, with Houston posting a 122-121 win on Oct. 17 at Oakland, the Warriors taking a 124-114 victory on Jan. 4 at Houston and the Rockets prevailing, 116-108, on Jan. 20 in Houston. The Warriors have won 12 of the last 15 meetings in the regular season.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
THE CP3 VOID: Paul has emerged as the clear leader of the Rockets, based on his comfort taking control at key moments of the game, as well has his commitment to defense. Eric Gordon will start in his place, shortening Houston’s bench as well as its guidance. Expect the Warriors increase their pace in an effort to exploit this.

THE OFFENSE: Partly because of Houston’s switching defensive scheme, the Warriors have resorted to an isolation-heavy offense, with Kevin Durant at the center. More ball movement would better utilize Stephen Curry and also make the Rockets burn more energy on defense. Can the Warriors impose their will?

THE PACE: Houston’s seven-man rotation is reduced to six, with the Gerald Green as Sixth Man. The Warriors used nine players in Game 4 and 10 in Game 5. If they can push the pace early, even at the risk of early turnovers, it will force the Rockets to extend their starters, use players they don’t trust or those that haven’t played at all.

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