Warriors Outduel Rockets in Game 1
Game 2 of Western Conference Finals on Wednesday
The Warriors took a 1-0 series lead in the Western Conference Finals after defeating the Rockets 119-106 in Game 1 in Houston on Monday night. After a rocky first few minutes, Golden State settled in before outscoring the Rockets by 13 points in the second half to take the victory. Kevin Durant was sensational from the opening tip, scoring 13 of his team-high 37 points in the opening quarter. Klay Thompson contributed 28 points and six three-pointers, while Stephen Curry added 18 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
POOR START, STRONG FINISH
Steve Kerr kept his starting lineup close to his vest up until tipoff, but sure enough the Dubs started the Hampton's 5 lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green for the third-straight game.
"We felt it was important to get off to a good start, and that's why we made the decision to start Andre," said Kerr following the victory.
Unfortunately for Golden State, the plan didn't work out as hoped. The Rockets scored the first six points of the contest, Green got an early technical and Iguodala picked up two early fouls in the first four minutes of action, forcing Kerr to divert to a more traditional lineup, with Kevon Looney taking Iguodala's place. Slowly but surely, the Warriors began to work their way back into the game, thanks in large part to Durant's dominant scoring display. He got his first two points midway through the opening quarter, and would add another 11 through the remainder of the frame to pull Golden State within one at the end of one. The Dubs would then trim the final point off their deficit in the second frame to tie the game going into halftime, before outplaying Houston over the final two quarters to seal the win.
There were stretches of Game 1 in which an individual on each team seemed unstoppable. On Houston's side, James Harden consistently gave the Warriors' defense fits, no matter what they threw at him. Harden finished with a game-high 41 points on 14-of-24 shooting the field, and was particularly effective in insolation, where he averaged 1.67 points per isolation possession.
However, the Warriors had an answer in the form of Durant, who scored 13 points in each of the first and third quarters and finished with 37 points on 14-of-27 shooting, 27 of which also came in isolation. It was Durant's fourth 30-point game of the 2018 postseason.
The difference in the game may have been the fact that the Warriors had a second scorer imposing his will on the opposing defense. Klay Thompson was fairly quiet to start the game, but got better and better as the contest wore on and scored 11 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter to help ensure Golden State wouldn't trail at any point in the second half. His six three-pointers in the game gave him 271 career postseason treys, moving him past Chauncey Billups (267) for 10th on the NBA all-time playoffs 3-pointers made list.
YOUNG COMES THROUGH
Several of Thompson's threes were of the momentum-changing variety, but he wasn't the only one with some of those. If there was an unsung hero in Golden State's victory, that honor would likely go to Nick Young, who simply did was he does best. After making 13 of his 19 three-point attempts against the Rockets during the regular season, Young went 3-of-5 from beyond the arc on Monday night to lead all Warriors' bench scorers with nine points in 15 minutes.
With their Game 1 victory, the Warriors have now won a road game in each of their last 18 postseason series, further extending a franchise record. The NBA record is currently held by Miami, who have earned a road victory in 19-straight playoff series.
"It's a big win for us tonight, but there's a lot of work to do."
Those were the words of Stephen Curry following the victory, and that work he referenced continues on Wednesday night when the Rockets host the Warriors in Game 2.