The Warriors waltzed into Houston for Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Monday night, and while it wasn’t a blowout, or necessarily an easy win, the Warriors outscored the Rockets 63-50 over the second half and ran away with an emphatic 119-106 win over the No. 1 seed – on the road – to take homecourt advantage in the young series.
For the Warriors, who started a playoff series on the road for the first time since 2014, Kevin Durant led the way with 37 points and three 3-pointers on 14-of-27 shooting, but from a fantasy standpoint, his peripheral numbers (3 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 steals, 1 block) were a bit lacking. But the points and efficiency helped make up for whatever it was he didn’t do last night. Klay Thompson hit 9-of-18 shots and 6-of-15 3-pointers for 28 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals in 42 minutes. He was clutch for the Warriors and while I doubt he has many more 28-point games left in the tank this postseason, he should approach that number at least another time or two in this series. Thompson scored the first eight points of a 13-4 run in the fourth quarter to put the Warriors up 100-87 with eight minutes left in the game.
Stephen Curry was curiously quiet, especially after me, Tommy Beer and Mike Gallagher gushed about him on our Monday afternoon podcast, but still came through with 18 points, six boards, eight assists, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer. He was tied for the team lead in steals, second in rebounds, assists and blocks, and third in scoring, and has now hit a 3-pointer in a ridiculous 80 straight playoff games (a postseason record). Draymond Green hit just 1-of-5 shots for five points, but came through again with nine rebounds, nine assists, two steals and two blocks, and elder statesman Andre Iguodala added 11 points, four boards, one assist and two steals in his 28 minutes. Green picked up a technical foul for shoving Harden in the first quarter, but it really doesn’t matter.
Kevon Looney played the most minutes off the bench at 25, but had just two points, four rebounds and a steal, while Nick Young added some instant offense with nine points and three 3-pointers in just 15 minutes, coming through as a punt play in some formats. Shaun Livingston played just 14 minutes, but hit 3-of-5 shots for seven points and five boards in the win. The Warriors were down nine points early, but never looked back after halftime. And yes, they also benefitted from an apparent missed backcourt violation, and then opened up a double-digit lead after Thompson’s 3-pointer with four minutes left in the game.
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The Rockets got 41 points, four rebounds, seven assists, a steal and five 3-pointers from James Harden, who hit 14-of-24 shots and 8-of-10 free throws in a losing cause. This was his first true scoring explosion since Game 1 against the Jazz (he scored 41 in that one, too), and the Warriors probably don’t care how much Harden scores, as long as they keep his teammates in check. This was just Houston’s second home loss in this postseason and they missed a ton of shots from close range that pushed the outcome into Golden State’s favor. Chris Paul had a nice line of 23 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, a steal and two 3-pointers on 8-of-17 shooting, and Eric Gordon had 15 points, five boards, three assists and three 3-pointers on 6-of-13 shooting off the bench in 34 minutes. Gordon actually kept the Rockets in the game in the second half with some big threes and nice play overall, but it wasn’t enough. Clint Capela had 12 points, six boards, three assists, a steal and two blocks on 6-of-7 shooting in 30 minutes, and that was about it for the Rockets. If Durant wasn’t a Warrior, this would probably be a fair fight, but it’s come down to GSW’s Big 4 against Houston’s Big 2, which is going to make it very tough for the Rockets to overcome. P.J. Tucker was invisible with one point after missing all three of his shots, but did have a steal and a block to go along with five rebounds and two assists, and Trevor Ariza had eight points, two rebounds, a steal and a 3-pointer in 23 minutes of his start. Ariza, who the Rockets rely on to slow down Durant, picked up his fifth foul with 10 minutes left in the third quarter, and his team was never able to recover.
Game 2 is Wednesday night in Houston, which is clearly a must-win situation for the Rockets, and the series then moves to the Bay Area for Games 3 and 4 on Sunday and Tuesday. Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals is on Tuesday night at 8:30, when the Cavaliers will try to bounce back after being drubbed by Boston in Game 1 on Sunday.