No. 1 Rockets vs. No. 2 Warriors - Golden State leads 1-0
After losing home court advantage in Game 1, Houston looks to bounce back against the defending champion Warriors on Wednesday.
Behind 12 first-quarter points from James Harden, the Rockets got off to a fast start in Game 1. The West's No. 1 seed led by as many as nine in the first, but the Warriors forced five turnovers in the period to cut the deficit to one at the end.
Despite Harden finishing with a game-high 44 points and his backcourt teammate Chris Paul adding 23 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, the Rockets struggled offensively as the game progressed. Houston's isolation offense became stagnant at times and the team failed to convert on a number of crucial second-half possessions.
A win in Game 2 is crucial as the Rockets must avoid heading to Oakland facing a 2-0 deficit. In addition to getting similar performances from Harden and Paul, Houston will need to cut back on its turnovers and get more ball movement to tie the series.
In the Rockets' regular season meetings with Golden State, forwards Trevor Ariza, PJ Tucker, Luc Mbah a Moute and Gerald Green each impacted the game offensively. Ariza scored eight points in Game 1 and Green added six but Tucker and Mbah a Moute were a combined 0-of-9 from the field. In total, the four forwards scored 15 points on 5-of-22 shooting in Game 1. Their performance in Game 2 will be what gets the Rockets back on track - or sets them further behind.
Playing in its first Game 1 away from home since 2014, Golden State showed no signs of being rattled by the road environment. The Warriors look to replicate their performance in Game 2 to return to the confines of Oracle Arena with a 2-0 lead.
Golden State again elected to roll with the dangerous "Hamptons Five" lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green to start the game. Durant led the way, scoring an efficient 37 points on 51.9 percent shooting from the field and All-Star Klay Thompson connected on six of his 15 3-point attempts to finish with 28 points. Curry added 18 points and eight assists and Draymond Green pulled down nine rebounds and dished out a game-high nine assists.
The Warriors continued their trend of coming out firing after halftime, outscoring Houston 31-24 in the third frame and 63-50 in the second half. The key in Game 1 was the 17 points they scored off Houston's 16 turnovers.
Look for Durant to build on his offensive performance in Game 2 while the Rockets continue to try and find a way to slow the 2017 Finals MVP down. Curry will likely shoot better than 20 percent from deep in Game 2 as well.
Golden State has a great opportunity to take a commanding series lead; Game 2 will ultimately come down to the performance of its four stars.