A 33-15 lead after the first quarter was more than enough for the Golden State Warriors to soundly put away the Houston Rockets in the teams round one matchup Saturday Afternoon, as the 73-win Warriors rolled to a 104-78 victory.
In fact, the win was so dominant the biggest question coming out of it wasn’t in regards to the game itself, but about the health of Steph Curry. Golden State’s golden goose left the game twice to get his ankle re-taped, playing only a couple minutes in the second half while leaving fans in Oracle Arena in a nervous buzz that reminded some of the feeling surrounding Chicago Bull’s star Derrick Rose when he tore his ACL just a few seasons ago. Curry would eventually return to the bench and be green lit to return to the court if need be during the fourth quarter, but Golden State maintained a safe lead throughout, allowing Steph to essentially sit the entire second half of action.
That doesn’t mean Steph wasn’t effective though, as the soon-to-be two time MVP dropped 24 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists on 8-13 shooting, including a 5-7 mark from behind the arc. Curry’s partners in crime, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, actually struggled to some extent, combining for just 9-26 shooting and dropping 28.
With no Curry in the second half and Green and Thompson struggling, the Dubs turned to the duo of Festus Ezeli and Mo Speights off the bench. The two big-men would shoot 9-16 from the field, scoring 20 with 11 rebound and generally leading the way for the Curry-less Warriors during the second half.
For Houston, meanwhile, things just never seemed to materialize. James Harden scored only 4 points in the first half, once again bringing into question whether not his reliance on getting foul calls could actually work in the playoffs, getting to the line a grand total of zero times and finishing just 7-19 from the field and with 17 points.
Perhaps the Rockets best chance at coming back and making this a series is how chippy things got. Technicals were assessed to Curry, Green, Patrick Beverley, and probably could have been given to Dwight Howard and Donatas Motiejunas during the fourth quarter. This was a team that seemed outmatched at times and if they want to make a push will need to find another gear to contend with a team that’s genuinely historically good. Maybe their only way to do that is by literally fist-fighting the Warriors?
Maybe literally fighting Golden State isn’t the answer, but shooting only 36 percent while allowing the Warriors to go 10-25 from behind the arc certainly isn’t either. Down 1-0 and staring down another game at Oracle, Houston doesn’t have much time to crack Golden State’s code and doesn’t seem close to doing so.