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Warriors-Rockets - 2018 Western Conference Finals


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On Golden State
2018/05/14
92   7  


This is the series that everyone has been waiting for.

 

A tremendous amount of ink has been spilled and words broadcast about this match-up.

 

How will the Rockets, a team purpose-built to defeat the Warriors, fare when it comes time to play?

The Hamptons Five

This group lived up to the legend during the Pelican’s series, limiting Anthony Davis, shutting down New Orleans’ ball-movement and perimeter scoring. They ran the ball and scored in transition. In short, they played some of the best basketball of the year.

But as Steve Kerr said, it’s less about the lineup and more about the energy the Warriors bring to the game.

I expect the Warriors will come out with amazing energy and no small dose of the genius they are capable of delivering.

 

We are moving to Peak Steph Curry time. Kevin Durant will show the world that he is the best scorer in the league.

 

Draymond Green will bring amazing defensive intensity. Klay Thompson will catch fire.

 

The Hamptons Five will cement their place in history books, but we will also see creativity, skill and energy from Quinn Cook, Kevon Looney, Shaun Livingston, David West and Jordan Bell.

 

Houston Purpose-built Warriors-killer team

Houston will play well. Jame Harden and Chris Paul will give their best, but it will not be enough.

 

The Warriors in Five

Game 1 goes to the Warriors. Game 2 as well. The Warriors will put their stamp on the series in the first two games.

The Warriors will lose Game 3 at home but win Game 4.

Game 5 back in Houston will be the decider and the Warriors will come home with the Western Conference trophy.

 

What's your prediction for the series? Leave a comment!


...


Tags: hamptons five x 1 2108 western conference championship x 1 houston rockets x 1 golden state warriors x 9

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On Golden State
2018/05/16

After just one game, the Rockets are feeling it.

The nightmare happened. The Warriors came into Houston, took the best the Rockets had to offer, and sloughed it off with studied determination.

Game 2 is now a must-win. Not that Game 1 wasn’t a must win already.

The Rockets have to beat the Warriors more times in six games
than the Warriors have lost in their previous six playoff series.

Kerr started the Hamptons Five, answering the question that was front of everyone’s mind.

The Rockets jumped out to a strong start, but the Warriors took the push and played on. They were down by one at the end of the first quarter. The game was tied at the half. The Warriors were up by seven at the end of the third and finished winning by 13.

Kerr’s rotations worked. They never let up. The Warriors were too much for the Rockets.

Kevin Durant showed true basketball genius. He put on an elite display. He was able to score on every defender Houston put on him. He finished with 37 points in 40 minutes.

Draymond Green was the engine behind the team. His technical foul in the first minute sent a signal that the Warriors had come to play. Playoff Draymond was in full force.

Steph Curry adjusted to the situation and gave the team what it needed. He hit only 1 of 5 from deep, but he drove and scored at the rim, mostly on James Harden. He grabbed 6 rebounds, delivered 8 assists and had a pair of steals in 35 minutes.

Klay Thompson took what the Rockets gave him, which was a ton. He finished with 28 points, with a season-high 15 3-point attempts. He had some of the most wide-open shots he’s seen all year.

Andre Iguodala was a stalwart on the defense. He didn’t take many shots but he kept the Rockets role players in check.

Kevon Looney provided the foundation for the win. His 1-on-1 defense on James Harden and Chris Paul absorbed the core of the Rockets offensive. He blunted their energy. It’s impossible to overstate his role. It was basketball rope-a-dope.

Shuan Livingston, David West and Nick Young were the Warriors secret sauce. Livingston and West changed the pace for buckets the Rockets were not expecting with sharp cuts, sharper passes and timely scoring. Swaggy P hit 3s that kept the Rockets on their heels.

Nine down. Seven to go.  And we haven’t seen peak Steph yet.

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On Golden State
2018/05/19

"We got what we deserved. They kicked our butts. No other way to say it." Steve Kerr

The Rockets showed their best in Game 2, soundly defeating the Warrior 127-105. The series now heads to Oakland and the Warriors home court for Games 3 and 4.

It was clear the Rockets were stung by their Game 1 loss and the criticism of the way they played:

  • Iso-ball with James Harden dribbling the ball 550 times, more than Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson combined
  • Poor shooting from Trevor Ariza, PJ Tucker and Eric Gordon
  • A quiet night from Chris Paul

In Game 2, the Rockets came out on fire. They made shots and moved the ball. They played with a level of energy that the Warriors did not match.

After the game, Kerr summed up what everyone saw:  

"I think a lot of these games when you get in the playoffs with teams that are very talented and really great teams, it often comes down to which one has the edge in terms of the aggression and the desperation. They were desperate tonight, and they played like it. And we didn't. And the results showed."

Kevin Durant, on the other hand, continued to shine. Where the rest of the Warriors struggled. Durant scored 38 points in Game 2. The other Warriors starters combined for just 35. 

Stephen Curry was the only Warrior other than Durant to finish in double figures, with 16 points on 7-for-19 shooting. Klay Thompson finished with just 8 points.

While it's easy to focus on the dominant play of the Rockets in the second game, the will be looking to bounce back to take control of the series on Sunday. 

We have not yet seen peak Steph. 

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On Golden State
2018/05/23
Game 3 was historic
  • The 126-85, 41-point Warriors blow-out was the largest-ever post-season win for the Dubs and the largest-ever post-season loss for the Rockets.
  • It was the Warriors 16th straight home game victory in the playoffs, a new NBA record.
  • We caught a glimpse of peak Steph.

 The Warriors won every quarter.

My MVP for Q1 was Kevon Looney. After coming in at the 6 minute mark, he pressured Clint Capella, bothered Eric Gordon, grabbed offensive rebounds and blocked shots. He was a key element in the force that won the Warriors the game.

"Looney's a good matchup in this series because of all the isos, because of the 1-on-1 play. You need bigs who can switch out and cover Chris and James. They're so tough to handle, and Loon's really good at that. He's gotten better and better all season, and we're thrilled with how he's played." Steve Kerr

The beauty of the Warriors is the depth, complexity and explosiveness they can bring on offense. In the second quarter, it was Kevin Durant who stepped up.

Durant was the Warriors most dominant offensive player in that first half. He ensured the Warriors had a comfortable lead from the end of the first quarter on. He scored 15 points on 12 shots. Gravity flowed around him. In short, he made it possible for Curry get his game going.

In the 3rd quarter, Stephen Curry hit seven straight shots, including a pair of 3s. He broke the game open and put his stamp on things with his now-famous shimmy and cry of "This is my f-cking house!" He finished the game with 35 points in 34 minutes.

For all the offense on display, defense was still at the core of the Warriors success. They held Houston to 40 percent from the field and 32 percent from three-point range. As always, Draymond Green was at the center of the Warriors defense. Green led both teams with 17 rebounds, had six assists and scored 10 points.

Green commented after the game:

“We got stops. Getting the ball off the rim and able to push the ball is much different than trying to take the ball out every play. You look at Game 2, we were taking the ball out a lot (of the net), and got nothing in transition. When we get beat up pretty good, we kind of had that appropriate fear we always speak of, and we played better. So now the way to protect that is to come out in Game 4, guns blazing, and trying to take care of business.”

So the question is which Warriors team will show up for Game 4? Green understands what the Warriors need to do. I'd say Kevin Durant is another person who will be on a mission. Durant took something of a back seat in Game 3 to give Curry the space to come into his own, but we saw what he is capable of in Game 1. I think we'll see some serious Game 1 Durant in Game 4.

Ten down. Six to go.

 

 

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On Golden State
2018/05/24

The Warriors needed the situation they faced in Game 4. A close game. Adversity.

They came up short. Fortunately, the loss wasn’t decisive. There are lessons to be learned. The Dubs can come back better.

Talk about a great Warriors start. Every starter scored. The team held the Rockets scoreless for 5+ minutes.

We saw Kevin Durant at his best:

  • playing point, passing to create opportunities,
  • getting to his spot for mid-range jumpers,
  • dropping in 3s from the outside
  • scoring at the rim

But we also saw the Warriors turn the ball over and leave opportunities on the table. The had the chance to knock turn the game into a blowout early but didn’t capitalize.

The Warriors 3rd quarter blitz was classic. Steph was on fire. The team found the flow and ran over the Rockets.

But then the Dubs let Chris Paul get going. They left him alone and he made shots. Then he went on his own personal run to steal back the momentum.

When the game came to a blow-by-blow contest at the end, the Warriors didn’t get it done. The Dubs will want to do better.

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On Golden State
2018/05/27

The Warriors backs are to the wall after loosing Game 5. The game was close, but the Dubs could not hold on.

Now they need to win the final 2 games. They have it in them, no doubt. But they’re going to need to play well.

  • Take care of the ball
  • Stay home on Houston 3 point shooters
  • Move off the ball
  • Make shots

Chris Paul came up hurt with a ham-string injury in the final minutes of the game and will not play in Game 6.  The Warriors are favored by 12. We'll see how they respond to the situation.

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On Golden State
2018/05/29

The Warriors lived up to their reputation in Game 6, both good and bad.  But in the end, the good won out.

Klay Thompson his games.


The Rockets got off to a fast start, at least in part due to a lack of focus on the defensive side of the ball by the Warriors. But the Rockets were also making shots. Eric Gordon rained 3s.


At the end of the first quarter, the Rockets were ahead of the Warriors by 17 points.

By the half, the Warriors had gotten to within 10 but the end was not yet clear.

The second half was a different story. The story was a storybook run featuring Thompson, who scored a game-high 35 points with nine 3-pointers.

via GIPHY

“Klay was amazing. The guy is a machine.” Steve Kerr

It started on defense, as they communicated better and allowed far fewer open jumpers. Getting stops led to transition offense.

 

Draymond Green has been at the heart of the defense. Green has guarded Clint Capela which means he would switch on to James Harden during Houston's favorite pick-and-roll. But Harden has had much less scoring success when going against Green. Having Draymond stay close to the rim has meant that the Rockets have lost the easy lobs to Capela that they've used so effectively. In short, Green's contribution to the Warriors defense been huge.

Houston collapsed under the Warriors onslaught, outscored by 45-12 in the final 18 minutes of the game. They shot 1-for-12 from 3 and committed multiple turnovers, including 9 by James Harden.

11 down. Five to go.

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On Golden State
2018/05/31

Game 7. In Houston. The Rockets just one win away from going to the NBA finals. This is what they wanted.

In the end, the Warriors showed their poise, grit and talent. They were too much for the Rockets.

The start of the game was tight, bordering on ugly. The Rockets looked like they might be able to impose their will. The Warriors looked like they were playing losing basketball.

In the first quarter, the Rocket scrapped and made a few shots. Klay Thompson dove into foul trouble in the opening minutes and took himself out of the equation.

In the second quarter the Rockets got hot and continued to play with energy.

The second half saw the reverse. The Warriors outplayed the Rockets and stamped their will on the game.

Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson each in turn made dagger shots. The Warriors defense stood up and got stops. Rebounding improved.

Youtube user ApricotAN created a brilliant video showing how Stephen Curry won Game 7.

The Rockets went cold. James Harden sagged. He lost ¼ step and made careless turnovers. The Warriors had the edge and never let go.

The Rockets missed 27 threes in a row, the longest stretch of missed triples in NBA postseason history.  

Down by 10, the Rockets stopped pursuing the game at the 2 minute mark. You could see that the Warriors could hardly believe the turn of events.

In the end, Harden dashed off the floor without shaking hands with any Warriors player. He had already stripped off his Rockets jersey when he was halfway to the locker room.

12 down. Four to go.

It's the Warriors-Cavaliers in the NBA finals for the fourth year running.

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