Game 1 between the Rockets and Warriors was quite controversial, but ultimately ended with Golden State taking a 1-0 series lead. Houston may have a legitimate argument that referees didn’t call that game or last year’s series against the Dubs fairly. That doesn’t change the fact that they’re still down 0-1 and have another game to play on the road, making it almost a must-win considering their opponent.
 Houston Rockets (0-1) @  Golden State Warriors (1-0)
The first game of the series was very close, as former teammates James Harden and Kevin Durant both scored 35 points. Somehow the Warriors managed to win 104-100 despite going just 7-22 from downtown. One thing that really hurt the Rockets was their failure to rebound, totalling just 26 for the game compared to 38 from Golden State. On the other side, the Warriors did have 20 turnovers. Quite an odd game, but Game 2 might show more of the same.
The Rockets continue to live and die by the 3, with 47 of their 74 shot attempts coming from beyond the arc in Game 1. They went 14-47 (29.8%) from downtown for a +21 advantage, but shot just 42% from from the field as a team. They played fairly decent defense, but they really struggled to rebound, which is a component of playing good defense. The Rockets will need to make more than 30% of their 3s if they want to win a game against the Warriors.
- Although Harden did finish with 35 points, he went 9-28 from the field, including 4-16 from beyond the arc. Eric Gordon picked up the slack, finishing with 27 points on 10-19, but that did include just 4-13 shooting from deep.
- What happened to Capela and Tucker in Game 1? They combined for just 4 points (Tucker had a big fat zero) on 1-6 shooting. Any offense they produce helps spark their defense, so a lack of offense is a red flag for Houston.
- Does Houston have a backup big man besides 36 year-old Nene? Faried received a DNP after meaningless minutes in the First Round series against Utah.
There is a rumor that the Warriors are intentionally forcing Kevin Durant into shouldering a heavier burden in efforts to convince him to resign during free agency, but it is far more likely that the Dubs just aren’t as superior to their competition as they were in previous years. Although he is the greatest shooter of all time, many forget that Stephen Curry just turned 31. Dray and Klay are both 29, so none of their core are spry young 20 year-olds anymore. Teams seem to understand how to defend the Warriors better, but it also seems like much of Golden State’s role players have simply disappeared.
- Game 1 was very quiet for the Splash Bros. Curry was decent with 18 points on 5-12 shooting and 3-10 from downtown, while Klay was mediocre with 13 points on 5-13 shooting and 2-5 from beyond the arc.
- The Golden State bench produced just 10 points in 44 minutes, although Houston wasn’t much better with 17 points in 63 minutes.
- The Warriors are playing ultra small-ball, logging just 21 minutes at the center position for the entire game. Despite that, they shot just 22 three pointers, making 7 of them. Their offensive strategy is a little confusing.
Pick: Golden State Warriors -5.5
Last year’s series between the Warriors and Rockets went to 7 games and really felt like it could go either way until Chris Paul got injured. This year seems a little different as both teams seem to have a distinct lack of productive depth. Unfortunately for Houston, Golden State’s starting five rivals any other, including theirs. The trio of Paul, Gordon, and Harden wasn’t enough to beat the Warriors on a night where Curry and Thompson combined for just 31 points, so what’s to say they’ll win when they score more? Expect Golden State to win tonight.