The Western Conference Finals are living up to the billing so far, with the Golden State Warriors striking first in an entertaining Game 1, beating the Houston Rockets 119-106.
Kevin Durant was nearly unguardable in the series opener, pouring in 37 points on 14-of-27 shooting, while Klay Thompson added 28 points.
James Harden did his best on the other end with 41 points for the game, but it wasn't enough with the Warriors stealing home court after one game.
Here are three takeaways from today's action:
Iso iso iso: Dubs make Rockets work for their shots
The Houston Rockets came in with a clear game plan: Force Steph Curry to switch on Harden and let Harden go to work. In an isolation-heavy game, the Rockets star was able to pile on the points early and while the iso-heavy ball proved to be their most effective means of scoring when the shots weren't dropping they had little to no other options as we saw in the third quarter.
The Rockets offense was far more effective when James Harden or Chris Paul was in isolation.- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 15, 2018
Here's a breakdown: pic.twitter.com/K2fpuqY3nB
The Warriors held the Rockets to just two points during a crucial five minute stretch in the third, largely with Chris Paul on the bench. Houston hit back with a couple of quick jumpers, but the Warriors took a seven-point lead into the fourth.
Plain and simple, the Warriors made the Rockets work twice as hard for their buckets and you're just not going to beat the Warriors without forcing their hand on defence. The Warriors can switch at every position and the absence of any real ball movement from the Rockets allowed Golden State to dictate the pace of the game.
Houston managed just 18 assists on 39 made field goals and while the likes of Harden and Paul can get what they want in isolation, they need to get the ball moving to get their three-point shooters some open looks.
Contrastingly, Durant absolutely torched the Rockets in isolation.
Kevin Durant scored 27 of his 37 points on isolation plays and was one of the few players for Golden State to be effective in the 1-on-1 game pic.twitter.com/UEZcYQLf1R- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 15, 2018
Curry in cruise control
The Warriors were in rhythm from the jump, shooting 52% from the field in Game 1 and while Kevin Durant's explosive scoring night should come as no surprise, the Warriors were able to get great shots and pile on the points with their most important player barely getting out of first gear.
Curry played 35 minutes, scoring 18 points, eight assists and six rebounds in the win and as the series goes on, his offensive production is only going to increase.
Warriors punish turnovers
The Warriors defence don't need to be asked twice to punish you for careless mistakes and in Game 1, they pressed the Rockets ball handlers, forced timely turnovers and got plenty of good looks in transition.
They turned 13 Rockets turnovers into 17 points and only turned the ball over themselves nine times. Considering the Rockets weren't really moving the ball around the perimeter, the turnovers are even more of a concern.
Steph with the steal, Andre with the slam 🔥🔥- Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 15, 2018
📺 @NBAonTNT pic.twitter.com/XIHuOwQdZ7
The Warriors defence was locked in from the start and in the first half they managed to force three shot clock violations.