There is a swirl of discussion over the availability of a few key players for Game 5 of the first-round playoff series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers.
This much Chukwuma Okorafor Color Rush Jersey , though, is certain: The Penguins, who hold a 3-1 series lead, can wrap things up and move on to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a win Friday at PPG Paints Arena.
Meanwhile, the Flyers are facing elimination.
?We?re not ready for our season to be over,? Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux said Thursday. ?We go to Pittsburgh, tough building to play in. We know we can win there. We know if we play our game we can win.
?So we?re going to go out there, play our game and be back (home) for Game 6.?
Giroux, who had 102 points during the regular season, has been held to one assist and is minus-7 in the four games this series.
Philadelphia general manager Ron Hextall exonerated Giroux, saying there are a lot of factors in one players? numbers being down, and he didn?t have to get technical when breaking down his club?s game plan for extending its season.
Philadelphia top-line center and Selke Trophy finalist Sean Couturier, who missed Game 4 because of an injury sustained in practice Tuesday, skated but did not practice Thursday and accompanied the team to Pittsburgh. After practice, he indicated there is a chance he could play.
?Feeling better every day, and we?ll see (Friday) how I feel,? Couturier said.
Pittsburgh will be without tenacious winger Patric Hornqvist for the second straight game because of an unspecified injury, although he skated on his own Thursday.
The Penguins apparently dodged a huge setback after goaltender Matt Murray needed attention from a trainer during practice Thursday. Murray remained on the ice and continued in goal until the end of practice.
Afterward, he declined to say what ailed him but proclaimed, ?I?m good.?
Murray in Game 4 became the NHL goalie to reach 25 playoff wins the fastest, doing it in 36 games.
With two shutouts this series ? along with a 1.27 goals-against average and a .948 save percentage ? Murray has been part of a dominating Pittsburgh performance in its three wins, which have been by a combined score of 17-1.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby ? whose goal and assist in Game 4 gave him 173 career playoff points, moving him ahead of Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux for the club record ? warned that his team?s three lopsided wins haven?t come as easily as they might have looked.
?It?s about momentum and different points in games, and we?ve executed well, but that can change quickly if you don?t play the right way.?
Crosby and the Penguins know what facing a team on the precipice is all about after winning the Stanley Cup the past two years. In those two playoff runs, they were 8-5 when they had a chance to eliminate an opponent, 4-3 last year.
?It?s always hard to end someone?s season. We know they?re going to be desperate and throw everything at us,? Penguins winger Jake Guentzel said. One good beating per series is plenty for Draymond Green and Golden State.
The Warriors got it in Game 2 at Houston, and now the defending champions plan to do what they seem to do best: bounce back with brilliance.
As the Western Conference finals showdown shifts to Oracle Arena for Sunday?s Game 3, tied at one game apiece, the Warriors have spent the past few days discussing their Game 2 troubles and what they?re striving to do in order not to be dominated again.
It?s time to play.
?I think we?re at our best when we feel threatened,? Green said Saturday. ?Game 1 we felt threatened, we came out with a sense of urgency. Game 2 we maybe didn?t feel as threatened and the sense of urgency wasn?t there. I think you?re allowed one of those a series. We?ve had our one, now it?s time to lock in for the remainder of the series.?
And for the Warriors that starts on the defensive end against Chris Paul, James Harden and Co. Sylvester Williams Color Rush Jersey , because when they get stops it allows Golden State to get going in transition and find open looks from 3-point range that weren?t there during a 127-105 Game 2 defeat Wednesday night at Houston. That was largely because the Rockets had ample time to set their defense following made baskets.
Houston is making sure not to get too high from its impressive result. The Rockets lost Game 1, 119-106.
?Feels like Game 2 was a week ago now. That?s how it is in the playoffs,? Paul said. ?I heard somebody say when you lose a game in the playoffs, you feel like you?re never going to win again, and when you win, you feel like you?re never going to lose again. We?ve done a great job all year staying even-keeled.?
The task gets tougher for the Rockets at one of the league?s most imposing venues.
Golden State has won an NBA record-tying 15 straight postseason home games, matching the Chicago Bulls? mark from April 27, 1990-May 21, 1991.
?The Warriors at Oracle are a different story for sure,? Stephen Curry said.
Coach Steve Kerr spoke last week to former Warriors coach Mark Jackson about Golden State?s resiliency over years now.
Just as they did in losing once in each of the first two rounds, the Warriors hardly looked strong in Game 2. Kerr insists that rebounding from a bad loss is hardly about coaching, patting his chest to note that his players take it upon themselves based on their passion to respond from defeat.
And the Warriors aren?t worried about Curry rediscovering his shooting rhythm after making only two 3-pointers ? one in each game ? so far this series.
It might just take one to fall for the two-time MVP to start feeling it again. Or not even one.
?I only need one, that?s all I need,? Curry said. ?Actually I might not need any because hopefully that first one that I shoot in Game 3 goes in, so I don?t really need any.?
Golden State, which realized it wouldn?t go a record 16-1 like last postseason?s remarkable run to a second title in three years, responded from defeats in the first round to San Antonio and then against the Pelicans in the Western Conference semifinals.
?It?s not just this year it?s the last four years,? Kerr said. ?It shows you the resilience of our team. I was talking to Mark Jackson last week and I said, `When I knew how tough this team was, I think it was 2013 when Mark was coaching and they lost at the buzzer to Denver on the road in Game 1, Andre Miller hit a shot. The Warriors came back and won Game 2. They lost a heartbreaker in the next round to San Antonio at San Antonio, they had an 18-point lead with about five minutes left. A devastating loss http://www.giantsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-b.j.-hill-jersey , came back and won Game 2 on the road. I remember as a broadcaster watching those two games that showed what kind of guts these guys have. Mark agreed. We?ve both been blessed to coach the group. It?s not something that you coach, it?s just something that?s in them. Steph, Draymond, Andre (Iguodala) and Klay (Thompson), those are guys who have been here for a while, so then you add KD to that, a guy who?s seen everything in the playoffs. We?ve got a pretty resilient group.?
Mike D?Antoni knows what his Rockets are up against now that the series shifts to the Warriors? imposing home court.
?We always talk about having a short memory, especially in bad times, but you have to have a short memory also in good times. Play with the same desperation. Play with the same force that we played offensively and defensively, knowing that they?ll have more of a force on their side,? D?Antoni said. ?But we have to control what we can control, and make sure we?re aggressive.?