2018 West Finals: Durant shoots down Rockets in Game 1

2. Golden State Warriors 119 – 1. Houston Rockets 106 (Warriors lead 1-0)

In the very first possession of the game, James Harden ran a misdirection and found himself wide open in the left wing. He buried the trey to give the Houston Rockets the first basket of the game. In the next possession, Harden drove straight at Kevin Durant and scored on a strong layup over the longer Durant. Harden then isolated Steph Curry at the top of the key and rose for a three-pointer right in front of Curry. Harden picked apart two of the four Warriors All-Stars in the first three possessions of the game.

With Harden leading the way, the Rockets zoomed to a nine-point lead in the first period. The Toyota Center was rocking. The Beard was on fire all throughout the game. Just like the previous Game 1s in the series, Harden was taking over. He finished with 41 points and seven assists. His third 40+ point performance in a Game 1 in this year’s Playoffs.

Harden was on fire. But so was Kevin Durant.

The Golden State Warriors played Houston’s switching game by running pick plays to get Durant a favorable match-up almost every time on the offensive end. When you’re a 6’9″, long, athletic scoring machine, almost every player on the opposing team is a bad match-up.

Durant went to work near the end of the first period as he continuously popped jumpers over the shorter defenders that switched onto him. After the Rockets rushed out to a nine-point lead, Durant proceeded to score nine points, all on different kinds of jumpers. He scored 13 points in the first quarter alone to carry the Warriors back in the game.

Durant also played a crucial role in the run that bridged the third and fourth quarter when Golden State built a double-digit lead. The Warriors slowed down the game when they took the lead and they concentrated on grinding down the Rockets by playing the mismatch game. He scored on Clint Capela, Nene, PJ Tucker and Harden. It didn’t matter who was on him, he just scored on them.

He finished with 37 points and nothing much else. But they didn’t need all the other stats. He brought the scoring that the Warriors needed.

Joining Durant in the scoring spree was Klay Thompson. Thompson played the role of fireman in today’s game. He hit cool three-pointers to quell the runs of the Rockets. With four minutes left in the game, the Rockets were able to cut the lead down to just seven points. Green cut to the paint as Thompson popped out and found the shooter wide open on the left wing. Thompson nailed a huge trey to restore the double-digit lead. Game over.

Thompson scored 28 points and hit six three-pointers in the game.

Houston has been the best team for most of the regular season. But in the Playoffs, the Warriors have looked more dominant. Golden State got what they wanted in the first two games. No matter what happens in Game 2, the Warriors are heading back to Oakland with home court advantage after this huge Game 1 win.

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