The Golden State Warriors earned the Game 1 victory over the Houston Rockets, 104-100. The game itself had plenty of twists and turns. However, we decided to take a look at five things that happened over the course of 48 minutes. It was only Game 1, so there should be plenty of adjustments.
Neither team shot great from 3-point range. However, there was some offensive success on both sides. The Warriors shot 50.7 percent from the field. The Rockets shot 42 percent from the field in the loss. Overall, the Warriors out rebounded the Rockets, 38-26. That happens when you miss 43 shot attempts and only get three offensive rebounds.
Here are five takeaways from the Warriors’ Game 1 victory.
- Kevin Durant punished the switching defense-
Although most people are glowing over Kevin Durant’s Game 1 performance, he could have played much better. Durant hit some big time shots, especially in the fourth quarter. Thanks to the switching defense, Durant found himself in the mid-post against James Harden and Chris Paul on numerous occasions. His one-footed Nowitzki’s helped stymie each run down the stretch and it still wasn’t almost enough.
Durant scored a team-high 35 points on 11 of 25 shooting. He also made 12 of 15 free throws in Game 1. Durant also finished with 5 rebounds and 3 assists. However, his turnovers must be cut down immediately. Durant coughed up the ball six times on Sunday. He also gave up the final turnover of the game when the Rockets were in desperation mode. It’s a good thing the Warriors got a defensive stop. Otherwise, people would have been talking about the final turnover of the game.
Since averaging 22 points in the first two games, Durant has raised his scoring average to 40 points per game over the last five contests. However, he hasn’t had more than seven rebounds in a single playoff game this year. The Warriors are going to need more of a presence on the glass from Durant. He must be pacing himself because he played 43 minutes in Game 1.
- James Harden and Eric Gordon Dominated the offense-
You knew the Rockets attempted a lot of 3-pointers during the Game 1 loss. However, they may have taken a few too many on Sunday. They finished the day going 14 of 47 from beyond the arc. More importantly, James Harden and Eric Gordon combined to go 8 of 29 from 3-point range. As a team, they shot 29.8 percent.
Harden led the team with 35 points, while Gordon scored 27 points. Gordon was 6 of 6 from 2-point range and 10 of 19, overall. Meanwhile, Harden shot an embarrassing 9 of 28 from the field. He was more interested in getting foul calls than anything else. Harden still shot an impressive 13 of 14 from the foul line.
- Stephen Curry in foul trouble–
No, Stephen Curry did not have one of his best games. Yet, he was there to put a nail in the coffin on Game 1. Curry hit a 3-pointer over Nene to give the Warriors a 103-98 lead with 40 seconds left. Once Curry got the switch, you can see Durant motion to Curry to take him with the waive of a hand. Curry finished the game with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. He shot 5 of 12 from the field thanks to an abundance of foul trouble throughout. Curry must try not to foul in the first half. Since he is accustomed to playing the whole first quarter, Curry should be able to avoid foul trouble if he stays away from silly fouls early in the game. During Game 1, Curry played with five fouls for the majority of the fourth quarter. Interestingly enough, he probably played his best defense at that point.
The Warriors finished Game 1 with 20 turnovers. There were so many boneheaded mistakes, it’s hard to pin down one answer. However, one play stands out the most besides Durant’s final turnover of the game. Klay Thompson got a steal and tried to take off. He quickly tried to find a teammate and the ball ended up in Andre Iguodala’s hands. Within a second, Iguodala tried to get the ball back to Thompson. However, the ball hit Thompson right in the midsection which led to a turnover. The Warriors don’t have to rush to make plays.
Meanwhile, the Rockets created 14 steals. That means the Warriors are giving away live ball turnovers. However, the Rockets had 14 turnovers of their own. Neither team took care of the ball. Maybe it was a feeling out process. Maybe both defenses will continue to force the issue as the series grows.
The Warriors still finished with 24 assists in Game 1. Clearly, it wasn’t their best effort, but Draymond Green was finding open teammates throughout the game. He finished with nine assists. Green also committed five turnovers, including a behind the back pass that wasn’t close to the intended target.
Harden is usually a prolific assist man. However, he led the Rockets with six dimes in Game 1. The Rockets only finished with 14 assists in the contest. Meaning, the ball was sticking and the Rockets weren’t making shots.
- Starting Lineups-
Both teams went fairly small in the starting lineup. The Rockets are basically starting three point guards. Chris Paul only attempted nine field goal attempts. He did score 17 points. However, Paul was ejected late in the game. The Rockets only had three players score in double figures. P.J. Tucker didn’t score in 39 minutes. Moreover, Harden’s alley-oops to Clint Capela were almost nonexistent. Capela scored four points in the game. As a result, the starting front court only scored four points in the game.
Andre Iguodala made his first start of the postseason. It seems like both teams are happy with the adjustments so far. Remember, Iguodala was lost due to injury last season. Therefore, the Warriors had to play without another tremendous perimeter defender.