While a game one loss in any series is no cause for alarm, the Rockets should be shaking where they stand after Monday’s 119-106 loss to the Warriors at the Toyota Center to open the Western Conference Finals.
Inevitably, it’s a match-up most of Houston has been anticipating for a large portion of the NBA season. Sure, the Rockets were the best team on the court with 65 wins, but how would they look against the defending champions and our generation’s deadliest basketball dynasty?
The Rockets were 2-1 against Golden State in the regular year, but the postseason is a different beast when you’re dealing with a franchise that has won six straight series and has never been eliminated with Kevin Durant.
Durant was the most dominant of Golden State’s many superstars in the opener, scoring 37 points in just 40 minutes on the floor. He helped the Warriors climb back from a 9-point deficit in the first half and pull away in the fourth quarter.
This is bad news for fans that have justified this inevitable series before it was even scheduled with talks of home court advantage. Now, after just one game, the Warriors have turned the tables on Houston and reclaimed this advantage right off the bat.
The blame can’t be placed on NBA-candidate James Harden, who scored a game-high 41 points on the night. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni joked after the loss that they’d need him to do more and score 55 in game two. He may have been joking, but he’s not far off if the Rockets don’t tighten things up defensively throughout the rest of the series.
Houston allowed multiple open looks in game one, but the fact is that might not always matter. Players like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are going to hit their shots anyways. Bottom line: if James Harden has to turn into LeBron James to give the Rockets a chance, get ready for another year on top of the Western Conference for the Warriors. Game two is tonight at 8 p.m. and a must-win game for Houston at home.
Speaking of LeBron James, the game’s best player battled the shorthanded Celtics on the road in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday and the result wasn’t pretty. LeBron failed to lead the Cavaliers in scoring and Boston ran away with a 108-83 laugher.
Boston’s Marcus Morris has been left with the task of guarding LeBron, and talked a big game before the series started. He stated that the Pacers and Raptors, LeBron’s opponents in the first two rounds, “can’t guard.” He helped back it up in game one, holding LeBron to just 15 points. Still, history is not kind to the teams that have made LeBron look human to start a playoff series.
Boston has been one of the biggest surprises of the postseason and has advanced this far without the services of Kyrie Irving during the postseason and Gordon Hayward all year. Instead of embracing the future, Brad Stevens has turned his team into a very difficult obstacle right now. It will be difficult for LeBron James to do it alone.
Game two of the Eastern Conference Finals took place last night and the teams will be off until game three in Cleveland on Saturday.