Only 4 teams remain in the quest for the Larry O'Brien trophy, and this is probably the most wide open field in a long time. Warriors and Rockets are representing the West and everyone, including Rockets' fans, are surprised that the Rockets came back from down 3-1 to beat the Clippers in 7 games, advancing to the Western Conference Finals.
The Warriors are now 5-0 against the Rockets this season, taking game one, 110-106.
Steph Curry led all scorers with 34 points – his 5th 30-point game this postseason – along with 6 boards, 5 dimes, and 2 steals. The MVP didn't outplay the runner-up, James Harden, who also had a great game, scoring 28 points, 11 boards, 9 dimes, and 4 steals, but he did shoot better, Curry going 6-11 from behind the arc. It's going to be fun watching these two go at it.
Out of the 5 times they have played, this was Harden's best all-around performance, unfortunately his sidekick, Dwight Howard couldn't provide quality minutes.
Dwight Howard only played 28 minutes, going 3-7 from the field, scoring only 7 points, with 13 boards, and 5 turnovers. Howard left the game in the 4th quarter after he suffered a knee injury and never returned. If the Rockets want to win this series they need him to be a dominant force in the paint and he has an opportunity to be that force in this series. The Warriors like to play small ball, but tonight, Howard couldn't dominate the game when the Warriors had their smaller lineup in, which made the Rockets to play small ball also.
Draymond Green had a great game, almost dropping a triple-double, 13 points, 12 boards, and 8 dimes. Green was one of the reason why Howard couldn't dominate the paint, playing power forward in the small lineup. Green has been the x-factor for the Warriors all season, and will continue to be for the rest of the postseason. He gives the Warriors a dynamic that not many other teams have, being able to score, defend, and rebound at 3 different positions.
Houston had to play catch-up for the majority of the 4th quarter until Josh Smith trey ball tied it at 95 with 6 minutes left in the quarter. Warriors would then go on a 13-2 run that ended with 2 minutes remaining, Steph scoring 9 of the 13, Harrison Barnes providing the other 4. Rockets would make it interesting when Trevor Ariza stole the ball and knocked down a three with 16 seconds, to make it 106-108, but Curry would hit two free throws on the ensuing possession to seal the deal for the Warriors.
The Warriors supporting cast gives me confidence that they will win this series. In the second quarter, Shaun Livingston came off the bench to score 14 of his 18 points in the second quarter, also helping the Warriors close the first half with a 21-4 run. Harrison also provided good minutes scoring 14 points as a starter.
Overall this was a mediocre game for the Warriors supporting cast who has been phenomenal all season.
The Rockets will need Howard to play like a beast in order to win the series. Trevor Ariza could be a good sidekick for Harden, but without a dominant Howard, the Rockets don't win. Josh Smith, Howard's former AAU teammate, also could be an x-factor for the Rockets, similar to Green for the Warriors, but once again, without a dominant Howard, the Rockets don't win. None the less, this will be an interesting series.