Warriors To Take Control Of Western Finals

Durant was outstanding in the opener

The Golden State Warriors made a statement in game one of the NBA Western Conference Finals, hammering the Houston Rockets on the road.

The Rockets had claimed the top seed in the West with a franchise-record 65-win campaign. Mike D’Antoni’s men had edged their contests with Golden State over the course of the season and would have entered the series with confidence.

However, the visitors put on an outstanding display in the Toyota Center. The defending champions reminded the NBA of their quality as Kevin Durant was unstoppable on the court, sinking his shots at an unbelievable rate to put Houston on the rack. Durant notched 37 points during the contest, while Klay Thompson found his form with 28. Steph Curry did not need to be at his best as he played a restrained role behind his two team-mates.

James Harden went toe-to-toe with Durant and outscored his rival, but he lacked the support from the rest of his side failed to alleviate the pressure on their star man. The Rockets will need to find a source of inspiration to bounce back from their 13-point defeat as they cannot afford to lose another match on home soil.

The Warriors will be eyeing a move for the kill to take command of the series before they head back to Oracle Arena where they are unbeaten in the post-season this term.

Durant was outstanding in the opener

Houston Rockets

The Rockets could not have asked for more from Harden in the opening match of the series. The point guard got his team off to a rapid start, nailing three early three-pointers. However, Houston were not able to control Durant, who eradicated their advantage and put the Warriors in control.

Harden appeared to have injured himself in the first quarter, although he returned to the court and was outstanding throughout the rest of the match. His shooting was flawless, making 14 out of his 24 attempts to keep his side in reach of the Warriors. Harden made five of his nine three-pointers, matching the efforts of Durant. He cannot play much better than he did in the opener, which is a concern for D’Antoni moving ahead in the rest of the series.

Support has to come from Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza and Clint Capela. Paul was underwhelming in the first half as he failed to find his rhythm. He scored 23 points in the contest, although most of those came when it was too late for the Rockets. His shooting from distance was extremely poor, making just two out of his seven three-pointers. Against a team of the calibre of the Warriors, Paul has to improve as Durant, Thompson and Curry will punish any error. Paul has the ability, but he cannot afford another night like the opener.

Capela produced the performance that he needed to in game one, making six of his seven FT attempts in the paint. The same cannot be said of PJ Tucker, who contributed just one point. Ariza was not a great deal better, leaving D’Antoni with a lot of problems ahead of game two. Houston need a team effort to respond otherwise they could fall short of the NBA Finals once again.

Golden State Warriors

The defending champions were dominant in game one. They were able to take a couple of blows on the chin from Harden in the early stages before landing a haymaker in response in the form of Durant. The 29-year-old was simply sensational as the Rockets could not find answer for his strength and movement in the final third of the court.

His accuracy was deadly from inside the paint and from distance. Durant made 14 out of his 27 attempts on the night, while he made all of his free-throws. That level of performance was the foundation of the victory, taking the pressure completely off Curry, who is still making his way back to fitness. If Durant plays like that for the rest of the series, Golden State should ease into the NBA Finals for the fourth-straight season.

Thompson was the foil that Durant needed to continue to rack up the points. When it was not Durant finding the net, it was the point guard. He was not quite as accurate as Durant, but was still on form enough to put the Rockets to the sword to the tune of 28 points. Thompson allowed Curry to find his feet on the court, taking the onus off him to get to the rime. As a result, Curry was allowed to play from deep and disseminate to his team-mates, picking up eight assists.

The 28-year-old will only improve as he gains confidence in his injured knee. Unless Houston can find a response to stop the potent trio then it could be goodnight very quickly. Expect a similar gameplan from Warriors, with Durant leading the way. It will be up to D’Antoni’s men to prove they can stop the All-Star before Steve Kerr’s men alter their approach.

Breakdown

Houston cannot afford to fall 2-0 behind in the series with the prospect of being eliminated on the road when they travel to California. Harden gave his all in game one, but he cannot be expected to carry the Rockets alone. Paul needs to find his scoring form from distance, while further points have to come from Gordon and Ariza. If they are unable to come to the fore to ease the burden, then the Rockets are spent, especially with the way their defense struggled in game one.

The Warriors will be aiming for a similar performance. Every time Houston appeared to be close to getting back into the game, Golden State killed off the atmosphere in the Toyota Center with a score. Durant appears to be in prime form and ready to take over the series. Defensively the home side had no answer other than to foul him. The 29-year-old duly punished them from the free-throw line. Expect him to dominate once again to lead the Warriors to their second win, backing them at odds of +100   to triumph at TopBet, while take the +1.5 spread for Kerr’s men at odds of -111   with BetVictor.

Tips Summary

Golden State Warriors To Beat Houston Rockets Game Two
Wednesday 16th May 2018 21:00 ET (Thursday 17th May 2018 02:00 BST)
Odds: +100

Take +1.5 Spread Golden State Warriors Game Two
Wednesday 16th May 2018 21:00 ET (Thursday 17th May 2018 02:00 BST)
Odds: -111