The Houston Rockets let game 1 slip away
The Houston Rockets had the Warriors right where they wanted them in the first and second quarters of game 1. The Rockets quickly quieted the crowd and kept them quiet as the they controlled the majority of the first quarter.
Two and a half minutes into the game the Rockets found themselves 9-2 on top of the Warriors. That momentum was killed when the Jason Terry got an offense rebound and gave a nice bounce pass to Dwight but he lost the ball and the Warrior took it for a fast break lay up at their end.
The Warriors went on to take a 14-12 lead before the Rockets regained control of the game and finished the quarter with a 31-24 lead. Up until midway through the second quarter the Rockets looked like they were the favorites in this with with having as large as a 16 point lead.
Many people believed that the Rockets were going to get their doors blown off, in large part due to the lopsided 4-0 season series that the Warriors had against the Rockets. The Rockets have a chance to win this series, no matter if their chances are slim.
Heading into game 1 I thought that the Rockets were going to win the game because I thought they were going to have a few things going in their favor. The Rockets were coming off an incredible series comeback and I thought that was a huge confidence boost for the Rockets. I thought that they would bring that over into this series right off the start and punch the Warriors in the mouth unexpectedly.
The Rockets are no doubt a different team than the one the Warriors dominated in the regular season, but the Rockets are plagued with too many stretches of bad execution. Turnovers, careless/sloppy play, and bad execution is what this series is going to come down to for the Rockets.
If the Rockets are to win this series they will have to go through every single possession like it truly matters because against a team like the Warriors it does to a great extent.
The Rockets showed that they can hang with the Warriors, and frankly they should have won game 1 but didn’t because they couldn’t play enough clean basketball. The Warriors were feasting on the turnovers and bad plays made by the Rockets and that is what cost them the game.
The Warriors and Rockets have very similar styles, but the two biggest differences are that the Warriors take better care of the ball and they have a little bit better team depth. Because of this the Rockets have to play 40-45 minutes of good basketball to beat the Warriors, that is what its going to come down to.
I think it is a little disheartening that the Rockets couldn’t capitalize on a game in which James Harden finally had one of those MVP type games that he had much of the season. Trevor Ariza also kept up his great play on the the defense end and with his shooting, but nobody else stepped up.
Dwight Howard’s injury was a big hit to the Rockets’ defense and rebounding, and perhaps they find a way to win the game if he doesn’t get his knee injured. Howard tried to gut it out but I think McHale didn’t recognize how injured he was and stuck with him for too long.
It was easily visible to see that Dwight was having a hard time getting up and down the court. Even his lateral movements were badly affected when trying to defend and gain position blocking out . Draymond Green who is about 6 inches shorter than Dwight was able to move him and out play him, which 9 times out of ten won’t happen with an 85% health or higher Dwight.
It is tough for Dwight because not only is this injury hurting his team but it allows the clueless observers and critiques to have some false ammunition against Dwight. Dwight Howard has been a monster in the playoffs like usually is but now with this injury he might not be able to show how dominant he has been.
Good thing for the Rockets that Clint Capela has emerged as a good player and contributor in these playoffs. Capela should have replaced Dwight much earlier some time in the second quarter. I continue to be amazed with how agile and fast Capela, he moves really well.
The Warriors’ 3-point shooting was another reason why it was tough that the Rockets let one game at the toughest place to play in the NBA. Steph Curry was 6-11 on his threes but the rest of the team was 4 of 18.
Steph Curry and Shaun Livingston had exceptional games but nobody else hurting the Rockets offensively, Klay Thompson was 6 of 18 shooting on the night for 15 points right behind Livingston’s 18.
The Rockets are going to almost have to perfect basketball against the Warriors to not just win a game but win the series. The Warriors simply move the ball too well and have too many good shooters, and will capitalize on any mistakes made which is why the Rockets need to value every single possession.
James Harden had a ‘James Harden’ type game with the exception of getting to the free throw line 10+ times. It seems to me that Harden’s lack of getting to the free throw line the last 6 games or so has to do with Harden’s history of being able to draw and sell the contact. In game 1 James Harden had a few fouls on him that weren’t called on him, there was possibly two during the Warriors’ big run in the 2nd quarter that allowed them to get into transition for easy buckets.
Josh Smith had 17 points but was 6 of 16 shooting, him and Terrance Jones combined to go 8 of 26, which is rarely going to translate into a victory against the Warriors.
The Rockets let game 1 get away but they proved that they belong on the court, if they can pull off a game 2 victory they have a legitimate chance to win the series.