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WCF Game 1 Recap: Houston, We Have A Problem

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The defending champs proved why they are one of the best teams in the NBA.

During the first few minutes of Game 1, it seemed that the Rockets had the jump on the Warriors. They had a great run with a hot James Harden and got Draymond Green to commit a technical foul within the first two minutes of the game. But Golden State kept on pounding and responding to Houston’s punches.

After being tied at the half, the Warriors came out surging in the third, as always, and never looked back. They snatched Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals 119-106, with Kevin Durant scoring 37 points and shooting 51.9% from the field, mostly in the mid-range where he tormented the Rockets. Klay Thompson bagged 28 points and torched six threes. Steph Curry, Andre Iguodala, and Draymond Green also contributed with combined 34 points, 19 rebounds, 18 assists, and six steals. James Harden gave an MVP performance with 41 points, seven assists and four rebounds and Chris Paul added 23 points, 11 boards, and three assists but that wasn’t enough to derail the defending champs.

So what can we learn from this game?

THE IMPORTANCE OF GETTING YOUR TEAM INVOLVED

(Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

The Warriors are great because they play beautiful basketball. They were moving the ball and played unselfishly. Watching Game 1, we saw how at least two to three players touched the ball in most possessions and not a single player had the ball on his own hands for 10 seconds. This showed how fluid their offense was and how well they involve everyone in their offense. They spread the floor, found open shooters, and shared the basketball.

While Houston relied heavily on their ISO game from their two all-stars. Both Harden and Paul showed up but their ISO strategy hurt the team eventually. They held the ball long enough that when the time is running out and the defense not backing down, they passed the ball to their teammates who cannot react abruptly to make a shot or they will be forced to a 24-second shot-clock violation. Also, with their ISO game, not only was their offense stagnant but it also disengaged the team with four other players just standing and waiting for things to happen.

If the Rockets want to get back in this series, they need to get everyone involved.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING GREAT IN TRANSITION

(Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

On offense, the Warriors constantly moved the ball well and consistently found openings and spaces. They looked for their teammates who have better-shot percentage or have greater shot selection. They had six more assists than Houston. They also ran and played great transition offense. They don’t wait for the defense to build up. They attacked the basket or shot the ball when they’re open. They scored 18 fast break points and utilized Rockets’ turnovers by converting 17 points.

On defense, the Warriors trapped the passing lanes, consistently adjusted theirs to Houston’s offense. They were able to get nine steals and pushed the Rockets to commit 16 turnovers. Aside from these, they contested shots and forced Harden and Paul to exert more effort to score.

If the Rockets want to get even, they need to start disrupting the offense of the Warriors and wear them down on defense.

THE IMPORTANCE OF CORRECT GOALS AND FOCUS

(Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Both teams have clear goals and focus, but they are far too different. And I think that made the difference.

The Rockets GM Daryl Morey had made it clear that they built a team to not only go head-to-head with the Warriors but to knock them out. Acquiring Chris Paul and signing key players to help Harden both on offense and defense clearly directed Houston to their objective, to beat the Warriors. They formed a team to match-up the Warriors firepower and to derail the defending champs. It’s good motivation. But somehow I think when this obsession goes overboard, this will cost them this series. Too much obsession to just beat the Warriors is harmful and can demoralize players and their egos if not realized. We saw how that affected Toronto against LeBron.

The Warriors’ goal is clear. They want to win another championship for the Bay Area. It may sound arrogant when Draymond admitted that he wasn’t thinking of having this match-up series with Houston and he doesn’t care who’s on their way to their goal. But this also showed that the focus is to win another ring.

If the Rockets wanted to really win against the Warriors, they need to shift their focus from just defeating Golden State to play and be world champs. That will help them play at another level.

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About Angelo Mallari

Married and Father of two. Currently an educator in Xavier School, Philippines and a contributor for TLSportsMedia.

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