The Golden State Warriors were able to outlast the Houston Rockets in a closely contested game one. The rematch of last years western conference finals did not disappoint. It was not a well-played game by both teams, but what it lacked in execution was made up with intensity.
The Warriors turned the ball over 20 times, and the Rockets spent the whole game hunting fouls. These two factors lead to a game that was sloppy and lacked flow. The NBA made it a point of emphasis all season to call a shooting foul on the defender when he took away the landing space for a three-point shooter. James Harden was able to take advantage of this rule all season. The referees elected not to call a shooting foul on several of the Rockets three-point attempts.
A player like Harden relies heavily on getting this call, and since they were not calling the foul it contributed to Harden shooting 4-16 from three. He expressed his frustration after the game stating ” I just want a fair chance, man. Just call the game the way it's supposed to be called and we’ll live with the results”.
With comments like that Harden will probably be fined, but it is also going to lead to the league office and the referees to look at how this foul is called. In fairness to the referees, it appeared that Harden and Chris Paul were launching their legs into the defender in an attempt to draw a foul. Hopefully, this focus on how this rule will be refereed will not take away from the series, and the great matchup between these two championship caliber teams.
Despite the lack of fouls called on his three-point shot Harden still finished with 35 points. Eric Gordon who is arguably the most important player for Houston after Harden and Paul finished with 27 points. Paul chipped in with 17 points and Capela was a no show with 4 points and 6 rebounds. The Rockets as a team shot a dismal 14-47 from three for a percentage of 29%. The Warriors were not much better shooting 7-22 from three for a percentage of 31%.
Kevin Durant had another great game scoring the ball finishing with 35 points. He has been on an absolute terror averaging 40 points per game in his last five games. He also contributed to the warriors 20 turnovers. He turned the ball over 6 times and Draymond Green added five. The ”Splash Brothers” were not sharp from the field shooting a combined 10-25 from the field and 5-15 from three. Steph Curry went 3-10 from three, but with Nene switched on him late in the game he was able to shake loose and hit the dagger three that put the Warriors up five.
Steve Kerr is still trying to settle in on a starting line-up since DeMarcus Cousins was lost to a torn quad. He elected to start the ”Hampton’s 5” inserting Andre Iguodala into the starting lineup. When asked about the lineup Kerr felt he needed to start his best lineup against the Rockets. Look for the referees in game two to call some shooting fouls while James Harden is shooting the three. Look for Steph to be more aggressive on the offensive end, because they are going to need him to be sharp if they are going to win this series.
The Rockets are going to need Chris Paul to be more aggressive as well on offense. They are also going to need to get Capela going as well. When he is engaged he plays better on the defensive end. Lastly, the Rockets are going to need one of their role players off the bench to make a contribution if they are going to get past Golden State. Game one lived up to the hype and did not disappoint. Game two should not disappoint either this is the start of a long exciting series that has the potential to be one of the best we have ever seen.