With Stephen Curry's injured ankle keeping him out tonight, the Warriors looked mortal. The offense was stagnant at times, as we've seen whenever Steph was out in the past. But the playoff intensity, in front of a hyped Oracle Arena crowd, spurred the Warriors to an incredible defensive performance and a solid all-around bench performance.
The Rockets began with some enthusiasm, but ultimately didn't put up much of a fight. Their most consistent offensive strategy was for James Harden to fish for free throws, and on defense, they were all a couple steps slow. Their coach JB Bickerstaff visibly can't hold the broken team chemistry together, and most of the players don't seem too invested. The Warriors don't respect the Rockets as a decent opponent (they're arrogant, if you haven't noticed by now): at halftime, Andre Iguodala said the game felt like a scrimmage at practice.
Without Steph's scoring, the Warriors were able to find scoring in ways they haven't really shown in the past. Klay Thompson led the team with 34 points, making a career-high 15 free throws. Andre Iguodala hit his first four threes in his best offensive outing since his return from injury. Shaun Livingston scored 16 points on 9 shots, including some clinical post-ups on defensive ace Patrick Beverley. The Warriors even got 23 points from their center position, as Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli, and Marreese Speights contributed nicely tonight.
On the defensive end, Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut set the tone early, not allowing anything easy inside. Other than fouling James Harden too much, the defense had no major defensive lapses for the entirety of the game. As a result of the Rockets' stagnant ball movement, the Rockets' many isolation plays were continually stuffed by the Warriors' best defenders.
This was a feel-good win for the Warriors. No longer are they so utterly dependent on Stephen Curry for offense. Since they don't play again until Thursday, they can rest and maybe allow themselves a good chuckle that they're playing a listless, uninspired opponent in the first round.
Feel like it's only sporting of the Warriors to play all home games w/o Curry for the rest of the playoffs.— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) April 19, 2016
It's jarring to see GSW's defensive energy ramped up like this. I got used to a few months of quasi coasting— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) April 19, 2016
It sounds hyperbolic, but Klay shoots 270% on 3s that follow offensive rebounds— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) April 19, 2016
Playoff Iggy is no joke.— EvanZ (@thecity2) April 19, 2016
Shaun deserves 20 million a year— Hugo Kitano (@HugoKitano) April 19, 2016
blessed to have 3(!) clips of bad Harden defense tonight for you guys
DAT HARDEN DEFENSE https://t.co/jC4hedofIt— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) April 19, 2016
Come on, James Har_en, it's the playoffs https://t.co/Nh4gdMoTDE— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 19, 2016
Textbook https://t.co/YexYgMspSK— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) April 19, 2016
- James Harden's game is ugly. Super ugly.
- There were 71 free throws today, which is a lot. The referees were wildly inconsistent tonight, and really disrupted the flow of the game. Oh well.
- Playoff Iggy is back, but Playoff Barnes is completely MIA. Got a few games to realize that potential, Harry.
- Andrew Bogut led the team with an impressive +23 tonight. He utterly embarrassed Dwight Howard, who had no idea what he's doing, and somehow still believes he is as dominant as he was five years ago. Brandon Rush had a weirdly low -17 tonight, despite me not remembering him on the court.
- It's hard to believe this Rockets team was in the Western Conference Finals just last year. Totally different vibe, even with mostly similar players.
- Warriors play next in Houston on Thursday. Hopefully Steph will be back...on second thought, maybe he should just rest some more.