Counterpoint: Rockets Lack Enough Options To Stop Warriors

durant nba

Doug Upstone

Tuesday, May 15, 2018 3:37 PM UTC

Tuesday, May. 15, 2018 3:37 PM UTC

Golden State played poorly for only a few minutes late in the first half of Game 1, but that was about its only stumble in its impressive victory. What can Houston do to even the series?

Warriors (67-26 SU, 39-51-3 ATS) vs. Rockets (73-20 SU, 47-44-2 ATS)Free NBA Pick: Warriors +1½Best Line Offered: BetPhoenix

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The Houston Rockets played 82 regular-season games to gain home-court advantage over the defending champion Golden State Warriors. In 48 minutes on Monday night, it disappeared like the basketballs falling through the net on Kevin Durant jump shots.

The positive takeaways for Houston were James Harden's 41 points and Chris Paul's 23, but Golden State had Durant (37 points), Klay Thompson (28), Steph Curry (18) and Draymond Green (9 rebounds, 9 assists) controlling the game.

The NBA odds board for Game 2 on Wednesday night opened with Houston at -2 with a total of 224. Quicker than SBR colleague Swinging Johnson doing his Roberto Duran impression when taking me on for NBA picks in the playoffs ("No mas"), the Rockets misfired with bettors and were quickly down to -1.

Early Game Plan Worked

There was a lot of discussion about Houston's three-point shooting being an issue, with Trevor Ariza, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, P.J. Tucker and Ryan Anderson a combined 1-of-10 from behind the arc. However, that was not as large an issue as some thought.

Houston was 13-for-37 from deep, which is 35.1 percent. This season in all games, the Rockets are at 36.1 and average 15 made three's. The six points would have helped coach Mike D'Antoni's team (and Swinging Johnson), but not have changed the outcome.

The bigger factor was the Golden State defense, which limited Houston to five fewer trey attempts. The Warriors were outstanding in closing out in the corners, taking away long-ball attempts and forcing Rockets players to either pass or drive and take two-point attempts.

Rockets' Defense Had No Answers

Houston, like most teams, lacks anyone to guard Durant. When he is dialed in, former NBA star Kevin Garnett, at Durant's age, was the only person who could match his size, length, and quickness from the outside.

D'Antoni could use center Clint Capela to step out on KD, but because of how well Golden State moves the ball, that leaves the Rockets vulnerable in the paint with sharp passing. Also, Capela could pick up three or four fouls in a hurry, which hurts Houston in other areas.

If Houston does not generate more than nine turnovers again, they are like Swinging Johnson's former favorite power couple, John Cena and Nikki Bella -- done.

The End Result

For NBA picks, I'm not completely foolish, Houston does have a chance to even the series, but unless Eric Gordon and the other Rockets players find a way to play tighter defense and make more three's, they will be head down and sipping their favorite wines, just like SJ.

Read How SJ Can't Really Picture The Reality Of This Series
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