The hype and mania that has been brewing over this matchup since the middle of the regular season finally came to a boil tonight.
And boy did it not disappoint.
The Golden State Warriors defeated the Houston Rockets to the tune of 119-106 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals to steal home-court advantage and show the doubters that the champs aren’t yet ready to hand over their crown to the new challengers in town.
Behind a masterful performance by Kevin Durant who ended the game with a team-high 37 points, the Warriors demonstrated why their offense focused around ball-movement is still primed to overcome the isolation brilliance of James Harden (41 points) and company.
The game was full of runs that ultimately fell in favor of the Warriors who never let up with an intensity that cranked up to another level we haven’t even seen in these playoffs.
The team shot 52.5% from the floor, only turned the ball 9 times, and collected 9 steals to help them take a lead in the second half that they would never relinquish to the home team.
Everyone who played for the Warriors provided good production (even Nick Young) as everyone ended with a positive in the plus/minus column.
Stephen Curry had a relatively “quiet” 18 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds while Klay Thompson shored up the scoring load with 28 points.
Man oh man did the opener deliver on the promise of this being the explosive series we all have been waiting for since the midseason.
Both teams combined for 10 3-pointers in the first quarter alone in an up-and-down affair that was just as physical as it was fast.
Durant lead all scorers with 13 points while Harden kept right in stride with 12 points of his own before going down on this play.
Harden got an owwie pic.twitter.com/B9CU8eX7Bf— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 15, 2018
Especially since this came after Harden baited Draymond Green into picking up his second technical of the postseason with some impressive head bobbing action.
Draymond wasted no time getting that first tech pic.twitter.com/d4zwh3xZ5d— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 15, 2018
The Warriors found themselves behind by as many as 9 points after the Rockets made a mini-run during the quarter but battled their way back to only a single-point deficit going into the second quarter.
The blistering pace continued with the Warriors eventually finding themselves with a lead for the first time in the game.
However blown coverages on a handful of plays let the Rockets net a couple wide open 3-pointers to stay right with the Dubs.
Calls remained dubious at best for Green as Scott Foster continued to show why he may be the only referee to ever have an effect on a Vegas betting line.
Dray not pleased at that foul call pic.twitter.com/BqnxLKDcJQ— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 15, 2018
Green and Andre Iguodala both pick up their 3rd fouls before the end of the half. But so did Trevor Ariza.
Despite the Warriors pulling ahead by as many as 7 points, the Rockets used another run to late in the quarter to take back the lead before Nick Young canned his third 3-pointer of the night to tie the game at 56 a piece going into halftime.
Durant continued his absolutely monster game by draining shot after shot to match whatever scoring spurts the Rockets were able to muster.
But a strong defensive effort for the majority of the third held Houston to fewer than 20 points until a small surge in the final a minute of the quarter.
The Rockets began attacking Curry specifically in the pick-and-roll and helped him pick up a few GIFs that will sure to be populating the internet later tonight.
But Curry then got them back on this beautiful steal and assist.
And they said Steph was a defensive liability pic.twitter.com/WVmQWQbc7k— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 15, 2018
The Warriors got into the passing lanes to disrupt those entry passes Harden and Chris Paul love to deliver to Clint Capela and their shooters in the corners, converting those steals into easy transition buckets.
The lead ballooned to 13 points before the Rockets used that late quarter surge to bring the final score to 87-80 at the end of the third.
The Warriors continued to use a balanced attack on offense and remained active defensively through the final quarter to keep the rest of the Rockets not named Harden at bay, securing their win with over a minute left.
Game 2 is on Wednesday night back in Houston. Let’s go Warriors!
Who was your Warrior Wonder in Game 1 vs. the Rockets?
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