The Unsurpassed Warriors Can Only Be Stopped By Injuries
The Warriors opened up their title defense with a 26-point Game 1 win over the Rockets in a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals. But the biggest news to come out of that game is the status of reigning MVP Stephen Curry, who played less than 20 minutes after tweaking his ankle, and remains questionable for Monday’s Game 2.
Curry torched the Rockets from 3-point range in Game 1, as he made 5 of 7 shots from long range, including 4 of 4 when the shot was not contested. Curry has hit at least one 3-pointer in 174 straight games including the playoffs. He and Rockets PG Patrick Beverley got called for technical fouls after getting tangled up and shoving each other in the first half.
It’s About The Warriors, Not Anyone Else
The Rockets ran 30 ball screens for James Harden in Game 1, 25 more than any other player. The Warriors’ stifling defense held the Rockets to only 0.63 points per possession on possession with Harden screens. Harden struggled from the field in Game 1, as he shot only 7-19 (37%), including a combined 2 of 10 (20%) in his matchups with Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
The Rockets ran 15 isolations in the series opener, compared to only 7 for the Warriors. Houston did not have much success on those isos, as they scored only 0.40 points per possession. The Warriors averaged 0.86 points per possession on their isolations.
Houston went with a smaller lineup to try to counter Golden State, inserting Corey Brewer into the starting lineup in place of power forward Donatas Motiejunas to give the defense more athleticism. The defensive changes backfired and the offense stalled as star James Harden went 7-of-19 from the floor and did not attempt a free throw for the first time in 148 games.
Brewer managed three points on 1-of-8 shooting in 28 minutes while Motiejunas scored eight in 12 minutes off the bench. The Rockets will need to figure out how to coax more offense out of a team that shot 35.7 percent from the field, including 6-of-22 from 3-point range, in the opener.