Western Conference Finals Game 1 Recap

kim kardashian

The Golden State Warriors defeated the Houston Rockets with a team performance. Steph Curry had his eighth playoff game with more than five threes and five assists (more than player in history) finishing with 34 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals.

It was a game of Warrior runs with the first coming right before the first halftime. Houston was up 16 with 7:05 left in the second quarter. Golden State responded with 25 points to take a 3 point lead into the break.

Unheralded bench player Shawn Livingston provided poise as the best team in the regular season started slowly. Steve Kerr, coach of the Warriors, said, “He was terrific… He kept us in the game in the second quarter when we were really struggling.” Doug Collins also lauded Livingston proclaiming him the MVP of Game 1.

Prior to this run, Houston dominated the paint and found production from ancillary players, as James Harden was limited to 2 of 7 from the field. It was bench energy that carried Houston for much of the game. Playoff veteran Trevor Ariza played phenomenally tallying 20 points on 7 of 10 shooting and hitting 4 of 5 from beyond the arc. It was also Ariza’s steal and subsequent three that cut Golden State’s lead to 2 points with under a minute to go.

During the first half, and for the entire game that matter, Dwight Howard was neutralized. After banging his left knee with Josh Smith in the first quarter, thankfully not his right knee, which hampered him throughout the season causing him to miss 41 games, Dwight’s presence was simply not noticeable. Playing only 26 minutes with 7 points on 3 of 7 shooting and 13 rebounds, Howard had five turnovers during Golden State’s 25-4 run in the first half.

The two Western Conference finalists have built their rosters in a very similar fashion. Both spread the floor and play positionless basketball. Each team has a Defensive center that starts, those being Dwight Howard and Andrew Bogut, but depending on the game may chose to sit them in favor of their smaller, faster counterparts. Once classified as power forwards, Terrence Jones and Draymond Green matchup as centers allowing both teams to immediately push the pace.

Addressing the similarity of strategies Kerr said, “It becomes very difficult to guard at either end. They have to deal with Steph and Draymond with the high screen and we have to deal with keeping one guy on James Harden without a big guy at the rim.”

James Harden took full advantage of Golden State’s small lineup. Using isolation after isolation against Klay Thompson, despite great defense, Harden got every shot he wanted, typically settling for long fade-away two’s and contested layups. According to Kerr, “We’ll live with those shots as long as they don’t get open threes.”

During the fourth quarter, Harden had five straight buckets dispersed between a Josh Smith made three and missed layup. Harden single-handedly kept his team in the game. With his fourth quarter, Harden finished one assist shy of a triple double, scoring 28 points with 11 rebounds and 9 assists.

Despite Harden’s best attempts, it was another Golden State run that decided the game. With 11 straight points on 5 of 8 shooting, the Warriors took advantage of Houston’s 4 turnovers and 2 missed shots during that stretch to seize control.

Throughout the game, Houston struggled defending screens and on multiple occasions ceded easy layups. On the other hand, there were times that Golden State appeared sluggish when shots didn’t fall. Neither team looked perfect, but Golden State ultimately came out on top.

A huge question for Game 2 will be the health and efficacy of Dwight Howard. If he is unable to play, or simply ineffective, it will be difficult for the Rockets to match small ball lineups with the 67 win Warriors. That said, Golden State was on the ropes for much of Game 1 and won’t necessarily be able to count on Shawn Livingston to keep the team afloat, especially on the road.

About Will Innes

I am a sarcastic politics junkie who also loves sports and television. I specialize in domestic politics, international relations and contempt for the Red Sox.

Have a tip we should know? tips@rhd.news


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