Warriors race past Rockets in NBA West finals opener

Arnold Nichols
May 15, 2018

The Rockets are especially determined to attack Curry, who missed six weeks because of a sprained MCL in his left knee before returning for Game 2 of the second round.

The Warriors absorbed many blows from the Rockets in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, but as they so often do, the Warriors used a second-half burst to pull away.

"It's nice to have home court", D'Antoni said.

The comfort provided by a 2-1 record against the Warriors during the regular season series the Rockets held tight since January was blown away after just four quarters.

"I thought he managed the game really well".

Just as he did in leading the Warriors to an National Basketball Association title with a Finals MVP, Kevin Durant finished with a team-leading 37 points while shooting 14-of-27 from the field and 3-of-6 from 3-point range.

Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni chalked up the Rockets' loss to "mental mistakes" - turnovers, poor defensive switches, imprudent offensive judgment - and nearly considered Durant being a phenomenon a constant. "There were too many times where we had mental lapses". "We ran out of gas a little bit in different spots and they didn't". 'He can get any shot he wants'.

Harden played inspired, for most of his 35 minutes, finishing with a game-high 41 points and seven assists. It was nowhere near enough to offset the Rockets' self-inflicted mistakes or the fury the Warriors can rain down on their opponents this time of year.

"He's one of the best scorers ever", D'Antoni said of Durant. We play a calm steady game, look for a good shot and play good D every time down.

"KD, he's tough. Obviously, [he was] on tonight". Hey, you can live with that. It was an exciting, entertaining first half that featured both teams going back and forth before entering the break tied at 56-56. "The combination of the two was devastating". Golden State needed to survive the early emotional salvo from the Rockets, with Houston dashing to a 12-4 lead behind eight points from Harden. Thompson added 28 points on 9-of-18 shooting. With so much attention on them, the Rockets seemed to lose their defensive focus on basically everyone else. "Some of it was breakdowns, things we can clean up and do better". "You know it's amusing, I got caught helping a couple times in the first half and I think Nick Young hit three (3-pointers) off those plays". Harden has to work way too hard and make insane shots to the point he's gassed in the second half.

"There were a couple times where we didn't guard anybody, and they got a dunk or an open 3", Harden said. "They make you pay when you make mistakes". I think that's important, he only had one turnover in the game. The Golden State Warriors are allowing 32.4 percent shooting from deep and are grabbing 47.4 rebounds per game. They anticipated correctly that their star power and healthy roster could handle a team constructed mainly to beat them. "They've been playing together, they know who they are".

The Western Conference Finals are still far from over. "Now we've got to go get it".

The Rockets are already approaching must-win territory for Game 2.

But, frankly, you don't have to overthink the Warriors' Game 1 win. The pressure shifts to a Game 2 effort that has to be much better offensively if they want to keep pace with the Warriors. They brought their switching defense aimed directly and dealing with the Warriors.

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