It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t always pretty, but the Golden State Warriors took care of business in their first two games at home against the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals.
Making a run
The first halves of these two home games were eerily similar. In Game 1, the Warriors found themselves in a 16 point hole in the middle of the second quarter, before erupting for a 25-6 run to end the half with a three-point lead. Almost the exact same thing happened in Game 2, but this time it was the Houston Rockets that clawed their way back from a 17-point deficit to tie up the game.
For the Warriors, both these runs provided them opportunities to reflect upon the weaknesses in their game. They fell down big early in the first game because of unconvincing defense, allowing the Rockets to get easy, uncontested baskets. And despite their hot shooting to start Game 2, they gave up the lead so quickly because they handled the ball carelessly, which resulted in unforced turnovers.
However, the Warriors’ ability to stay composed during these runs is indicative of their confidence. They’re a team that has strong self-belief. That’s a quality that is inherent to the historic level of success that they achieved during the regular season, and there’s a good reason behind that. While a game may be composed of several runs that shift the momentum between the competing teams, the Warriors have proven that they’re able to make the critical runs that ultimately decide the outcome of the game.
Curry vs. Harden
It’s been the battle that League Pass junkies have been waiting for all season. Two All-NBA First Team talents, the first and second place finishers in MVP voting respectively, in Stephen Curry and James Harden are battling head to head to determine the Western Conference’s representative for the NBA Finals. And the showdown hasn’t disappointed one bit.
Statistically, Harden likely has the edge so far. Harden finished one assist shy of a triple double in both games, and has cumulatively scored 66 points on a ridiculous 59% from the field. It’s difficult to chide Harden for how he’s performed in the series so far; as an individual performer, he’s been phenomenal. He’ll need stronger performances from his supporting cast if the Rockets hope to extend the series.
Curry has backed up his MVP credentials, with a pair of sensational performances. He’s amassed 67 points on 60.5% shooting, including 50% from the three-point line. Aside from his careless turnovers to start Game 2, he’s been an offensive maestro and continues to make his case for being considered the greatest shooter to ever step on a hardwood floor.
The Rockets have reason to believe that they’re still in this series. While they weren’t able to steal one on the road, they pushed the Warriors and showed tremendous effort. If the Rockets can defend their home court, they can make this series a best-of-three. For the Warriors, earning the elusive road victory bolsters their chances at advancing to the NBA Finals, but certainly doesn’t provide a guarantee. The Clippers’ epic collapse in Round 2 is evidence of the Rockets’ resilience, so the Warriors shouldn’t be counting them out yet.
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