The Houston Rockets played 82 regular season games to gain home court advantage over the defending champion Golden State Warriors and in 48 minutes on a Monday night, it disappeared like the basketballs falling thru the net on a Kevin Durant jump shots.
Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets
Free NBA Pick: Golden State
Best Line Offered: Heritage
The positive takeaways for Houston were James Harden's 41 points and Chris Paul's 23, but Golden State had Durant (37 points), Klay Thompson (28) Steph Curry (18) and Draymond Green controlling the game (9 rebounds and 9 assists) leading his team with a +19 in plus/minus rating.
The NBA odds opened with Houston at -2, 224 and quicker than Swinging Johnson doing his Roberto Duran impression when taking me on for NBA picks in the playoffs ("No Mas"), the Rockets misfired with bettors and were quickly down to -1.
Kerr's Early Game Plan Worked
While there was a lot of discussion about Houston's three-point shooting being an issue with Trevor Ariza, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, P.J. Tucker and Ryan Anderson a combined 1-of-10 from behind the arc. That was not as large an issue as some thought.
Houston was 13-for-37 from deep, which is 35.1 percent. This season in all games, the Rockets are at 36.1 and averaged 15 made three's. The six points would have helped coach Mike D'Antoni's team (and Swinging Johnson), but not have changed the outcome.
The bigger factor was the Golden State defense which limited Houston to five fewer trey attempts. The Warriors were outstanding in closing out in the corners, taking away long-ball attempts and forcing Rockets players to either pass or drive and take two-point attempts.
Rockets Defense Had No Answers For Golden State
Houston like most teams lacks anyone to guard Durant. When he dialed in, former T-Wolve and Celtic Kevin Garnett, at Durant's age, is the only person who can match his size, length, and quickness from the outside. D'Antoni could use center Clint Capela to step out on KD, but because how well Golden State moves the ball, that leaves the Rockets vulnerable in the paint with sharp passing. Also, Capela could pick up three or four fouls in a hurry, which hurts Houston in other areas.
If Houston does not generate any more than nine turnovers again, they are like Swingin's former favorite power couple – John Cena and Nikki Bella – done.
The End Result
For NBA picks, I'm not completely foolish, Houston does have a chance to even the series, but unless Eric Gordon and the other Rockets players find a way to play tighter defense and make more three's, they will be head down and sipping their favorite wines, just like SJ.