May 22, 2018
From the tip we knew the Warriors were going to share the ball, with ball movement being the focal point of their offensive scheme. But this did not deter Kevin Durant from being very aggressive, as he looked for his shot early and often. The Rockets were firm to their style of play, a mantra I like to refer to as “layups or threes.” Eric Gordon ignited the Rockets as he knocks down first three-point attempt and once he got started, his energy would soon spread the to the rest of the team. The Rockets are moved in transition very well, and also shared the ball early, resembling a “Warriors” style of play. But it wouldn’t be a cake walk for the Rockets, as the Warriors being one of the only teams that can match or surpass the three-point ability of the Rockets. But, as Chris Paul controlling the game with superb ball handling, playing with a high basketball IQ, and also finding the right man at the right time, it would be a tall task for any to stop them. PJ Tucker and Trevor Ariza looked good going into halftime, with each knocking down a pair of threes in the remaining minutes of the half, while Mr. Gordon continued to be the hot and steady hand. The Rockets honestly dominate the first half almost boasting a 20-point lead going into the half before KD answered with a three which gave Warriors life. They continued to fight in the 3rd quarter, but threes kept falling for the Rockets. Even Durant’s heroic attempt to keep the Warriors in the game was not enough to match the “Easy or Three” tactics of the Rockets. James Harden and Steph Curry both had quiet nights, although Harden was a large contributor to the offensive onslaught. Gordon and company continued to make it rain from deep in Toyota Center while Chris Paul played as the constant facilitator. The fourth is when Harden took over by finding the open man and scoring whenever he wanted. With that being said, he did not force things, rather let them come naturally. The benches would inevitably clear as the Rockets took a 25-point lead and would cruise to a 127-105 victory in Game 2.
Let’s dive into the statistics of Houston’s version of the “Splash Bros,” the two leading scorers for the Rockets that night. Eric Gordon came up HUGE in game 2, he shot 8-15 from the field, 6-9 from long range, but most importantly did not turn over the ball. He was decisive and knew what he wanted to do with the ball when he got it. This play elevates the Rockets to being a more than formidable opponent for the Golden State Warriors. On the other hand, James Harden was 9-24 from the field, 3-15 from long range, and had four turnovers compared to three assists. Without the threes, Harden was 6-9 from the field and 6-6 from the line, both statistics we can accept from the probable MVP. Some of the turnovers were careless, but although he did not have the assists, his “pass to assists” statistic was showcased better than most of the previous games he has played in the playoffs, meaning he is in tune with what the offense is trying to do. On the contrary, the Warriors’ and true “Splash Bros” were not very wet tonight, in fact, you could say the Houston heat got the best of them. Curry was 7-19 from the field and 1-8 from long range while Klay was 3-11 from the field and 2-4 from behind the arc. Both were shadows of themselves, and from time to time were “missing” on the court. They were fatigued from running in transition and from quick ball movement the Rockets did on a consistent basis in Game 2. In this kind of series, it is going to come down to who has the most possessions combined with who has the hottest players that night. Period.
The Rockets will ride their momentum into Oracle and score over 120 points with a huge contribution from the leagues probable MVP James Harden (who shot very poorly last game) to beat a Warriors team who will fight until the buzzer blows in Game 3. There will not be another blowout game, and I expect Klay Thompson to shoot poorly again while Steph Curry will pick up the slack and lead the team in scoring for the night. We expected the superstars to play at the highest level and will continue to watch both teams hoist threes like there is no tomorrow.
Game 3 will be played in the Bay Area on Sunday May 20, 2018 on TNT at 8:00pm. Will the Warriors reestablish themselves as the juggernaut everyone expects them to be or will the Rockets, the most improved NBA team, continue themselves to pick up a much needed with in Oracle?
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