“The Bears are who we thought they were…” Those words might have been said about a team in a different sport over a decade ago, but somehow they fit the Western Conference Finals series this year to a T. All of the talk after Game 1, in which the Golden State Warriors won to take back home court from the Houston Rockets was about how the play of the Rockets was going to lead them to have trouble. We even pointed it out here.
The response was quick and harsh from the Houston Rockets, helping them win 127-105 in a real blowout. They wouldn’t be changing how they play. Coach Mike D’Antoni made that perfectly clear before tip off. The emphasis on isolation basketball was still there, but overall they looked like a different, more focused team. This was a team that knew that their lives in the postseason were very much on the line, and that a loss would take them out of it. In fact, they would probably be swept away had they lost a second straight game in Houston on their home court.
But the plans of the Rockets differed drastically from those of the Warriors, and it sets us up for a series now that we head to California. How did the Rockets do it? First and foremost they got a ton of help from the bench, most of which came from Eric Gordon, who scored a co team-high number of points with James Harden with 27 points. Harden, one of the three finalists for MVP honors and the presumptive favorite, didn’t have to score 40+ points in this game, a relief to many Rockets fans and those that are neutrals hoping to enjoy a great series. Secondly, they shot the daylight out from behind the three point arc, hitting 16 3’s.
Kevin Durant’s 38 points, a game high, was hardly enough for the Warriors as the high intensity and desire from the Rockets washed away any chance they had at taking a commanding 2-0 series lead. One of the big reasons the Warriors struggled was a lack of scoring from anyone other than Durant. Only Stephen Curry, 16 points, had over 10 for them. Much, much more will be expected of them back home, and Game 3 is sure to tell us just which team is in control of their destiny.