Harden had to rest during a run by Golden State in the fourth quarter and Houston clearly lacked someone that could dominate the ball and score points.
The MVP frontrunner promptly got skewered on social media for the perceived lack of sportsmanship. Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni confirmed the news to reporters 90 minutes before game time.
"Man, it hurts bad", said veteran Rockets forward Trevor Ariza, who had perhaps the most brutal night of all, going scoreless on 0-for-12 shooting from the floor, including 0-for-9 from deep.
Added Houston guard James Harden, who had 32 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists: "We don't even think about that".
They might have to do it without star Chris Paul, who is dealing with a strained right hamstring that kept him out of Game 6. This is the lowest MPG average of Golden State's centers in the 4 years that they have been in the finals.
The best-of-seven series between Cleveland and Golden State will begin Thursday night at Oracle Arena, as the Warriors will once again have home court advantage after finishing with a better regular season record.
The Rockets' season-long focus on the Warriors provided the ultimate incentive, from Daryl Morey's obsession with the four-time Western Conference champs as he put this Rockets team together last summer, until the final buzzer Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time).
Both teams rallied from 3-2 series deficits in the conference finals. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, and you can then watch the game live on your computer via the DirecTV Now website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app.
The Rockets finished 7 of 44 on 3-pointers, with Trevor Ariza missing all nine of his attempts, Eric Gordon going 2 for 12 and Harden making just 2 of 13. "Obviously, he's a big part of why we're here, but we had opportunities, especially in the first half both games". "I know it was the adrenaline", Green told ESPN. He'll be back. Like I said, he'll be even better.
After looking sloppy and discombobulated in the first half, the Warriors morphed back into one of the most explosive offenses in National Basketball Association history during the third quarter. Houston kept firing threes despite missing consistently.