Houston Rockets Annihilate OKC Thunder in Game 1
By Ben Casey
The Houston Rockets had no trouble putting the Thunder away in game one, making a statement with a 31-point win.
From the opening tip until halftime, the first playoff game between the Houston Rockets and OKC Thunder looked like a toss-up. There were a ridiculous 15 lead changes in the first two quarters, and the Rockets held a slim, five-point advantage at the break.
The second half looked at first like it might feature more back-and-forth, but then a Steven Adams set a hard screen on Patrick Beverley that changed the game. Beverley picked himself up off the floor to Red Nation’s delight, and proceeded to knock down a three a couple of plays later. Houston didn’t look back, building the lead up to 17 by the end of the period.
In most situations, Mike D’Antoni might have called off the dogs a littler earlier, but this game was not like most situations. He pushed his team to blow the game open even more to make a statement, and that they did. The Rockets didn’t slow down, winning by an astounding 31 points.
This series has been hyped up as the battle of the MVP candidates, but it didn’t look like much of a contest in game one. Russell Westbrook finished with 22 points, 11 boards, and seven assists, but shot a dismal 6/23 from the field and coughed the ball up nine times. His former teammate and primary MVP competition had a much more productive night. James Harden scored 37 points to go with nine dimes and seven rebounds, and only turned the ball over twice. It wasn’t much of a contest there.
Harden wasn’t the only Rocket to outplay Westbrook, though. Patrick Beverley was the x-factor for game one, scoring 21 points on an efficient 8/13 shooting display. The 6’1″ guard also grabbed 10 boards and came away with two steals. To cap it off, he held Russ to just 3/13 shooting when they were both on the floor. The Rockets decided to take the opportunity to troll the Thunder, comparing Russ and Bev in a graphic on the big screen rather than Russ and Harden.
Houston Rockets talking PREMIUM shit tonight pic.twitter.com/A9yh2dHgbW
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) April 17, 2017
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Perhaps the best thing about the Houston Rockets’ blowout win was the fact that they didn’t even have that great a game from a lot of standpoints. Most notably, they only shot 30% from three, well below their season average. They also shot poorly from the free throw line, 69%.
Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza, and Eric Gordon all had serious off nights, combining for 16 points on 6/18 shooting. Lou Williams also managed to make just three of his 11 shot attempts. If the Rockets can win big despite several regular contributors struggling, it’s a good sign.
I predicted this series be over and done with in five games, and it looks now like I might have given OKC more credit than they deserve. However, anything can happen in the playoffs. The Rockets will need to go into game two with that in mind if they want to secure the expected 2-0 lead.
Next: NBA Playoffs: A Comprehensive First Round Preview
Game two for the Houston Rockets will be on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. CT and will be broadcast once again on TNT. Go Rockets!