Sports

Warriors down Rockets in opening game of Western Conference finals

Warriors down Rockets in opening game of Western Conference finals

Game 2 is set for Wednesday night at 9 PM.

Houston Rockets pair James Harden and Chris Paul rued their side's mistakes after they were beaten by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Western Conference finals opener. "And we definitely don't come in with the mindset of stealing home court".

"I thought he managed the game really well".

It looked good early, when James Harden had the Rockets rolling to a nine-point lead in the frenzied opening minutes.

Kevin Durant scored 37 points and Klay Thompson added 28 for the Warriors to capture the best-of seven Western Conference final opener in a rare series start on the road for a team seeking its third National Basketball Association crown in four seasons.

For a coach like Mike D'Antoni, who patented his seven seconds or less offense with the Suns, this team is the polar opposite. "We ran out of gas a little bit in different spots and they didn't. We try to get good shots every time down and defend on the other end".

Harden was blistering at the start, scoring nine points in the first two minutes, tied for the most he has ever scored in the first two minutes of a game in the regular season or postseason.

The fact that they were starting this series away from the friendly confines of Oracle Arena for the first time during their recent run did nothing to shake their belief in themselves. The Warriors hit just as many threes as the Rockets (in four fewer shots). Durant, who played just more than 40 minutes, was asked if he'd prefer to play the entire 48 minutes. 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. You can live with that. Keep going. Keep shooting your shot and keep being aggressive. "The combination of the two was devastating".

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In the fourth, the Rockets fought but could never whittle the deficit too far before the Warriors countered with a timely bucket. Thompson added 28 points on 9-of-18 shooting.

But for as much as the Rockets fought, their defense faltered. "Some of it was breakdowns, things we can clean up and do better". I got caught helping a couple times in the first half, and I think Nick Young hit three 3s on those plays. Harden has to work way too hard and make insane shots to the point he's gassed in the second half. If we want to beat them we have to be mentally sharp. "They make you pay when you make mistakes".

I took a chance and predicted that the Houston Rockets would win this series, and while I never panic after one game, I'm not almost as confident as I was earlier.

So as much as this is about the back and forth between Durant and Harden, the former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates who once got this point in a season together and elbowed their way into The Finals in 2012, it's about Curry, Thompson, Green and Andre Iguodala, the 2015 Finals MVP. They conceded the game to the Warriors.

Durant drilled crossover pullups like they were uncontested layups, unbothered by any defender, for a team-high 37 points. "They've been playing together, they know who they are".

Earlier, in the East Conference finals, Boston Celtics took Game One against Cleveland Cavaliers with a 108-83 victory. "Now we've got to go get it". The Houston Rockets have won 15 of their last 18 home games. Even then, it wasn't that serious - they were still up 2-1 in the series.

Because there is still no way to account for the experience factor, the muscle memory edge the Warriors have when it comes to recognizing the time and place to apply the ultimate pressure on an opponent that's ready to break. "Late third he was going pretty well". So I'm going to get scored on, they're going to get scored on. Yes they like to run, but it's feast or starvation for them.

Summer in Sacramento: The Warriors will participate in the 2018 California Classic Summer League, the team announced Monday morning.


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