May 4, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) shoots against Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick (4) in the second quarter in game one of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Rockets Lose Game 1
Don’t believe the hype. If there is a message for me to take away from the first game of the series it’s not to take a team for granted regardless of who suits up.
As soon as Chris Paul pulled up in Game 7 of the Clippers first round slug fest with the Spurs there was a collective sigh of relief from the legion of Rockets’ fans. Over the course of the next two days they awaited news amid speculation CP3 had only been playing possum. When he took part in shoot around folks figured he might actually make his way to the court to start the series. Then news came he wouldn’t dress for Game 1 and simultaneously everyone in Houston thought it would give their Rockets a huge edge to grab the lead in the series.
For their part the Rockets hadn’t played since last Tuesday April 28th and were on their home court. They had finished with the same record as the Clippers and had split the season series without the services in any of the four games.
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Watching the Rockets repeatedly turn over the ball and seem so slow of foot was initially written off to rust. But, when the Clippers were the faster team and ran their offense better I started to wonder if this Rocket team I’ve watched all season was an illusion.
Sure James Harden was getting doubled, but he almost looked to be getting rid of the ball even occasionally when he should have been forcing the decisions instead. When he did drive the ball he flailed his arms often leading to turnovers and would then stare at the officials looking for a bail out call.
I’m confused by the way Harden played as I assumed he’d make a statement given what occurred earlier in the day with Stephen Curry receiving the MVP Award by a convincing margin. Instead, it felt like he was still mired in a funk as if to say “why bother no one appreciates what I did anyway”.
And in fairness it’s not as if he didn’t affect the game with his 20 points, 5 rebounds, 12 assists and 4 steals, but his 9 turnovers were high even for him (a season high in fact). Rather it was the rest of his team who almost seemed to be as confused as I was watching the team self destruct at their own hand. Maybe they were waiting for Harden to assert himself and his continued passiveness also confused them.
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