James Harden and effective team defense paced the Houston Rockets to a Game 1 win, but they need to make minor tweaks to ensure a Game 2 win over OKC.
A total team effort on both sides of the ball vaulted the Houston Rockets to a 123-108 Game 1 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs. James Harden played how he was expected to play, and the rest of the team followed his lead en route to a blowout statement win inside the bubble.
Harden poured in 37 points on 12-for-22 shooting from the floor and ripped down 11 rebounds in 34 minutes of action in the first game of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
Eric Gordon, who missed most of the seeding games due to an ankle injury, returned to the starting lineup and played like he was never hurt in the first place. He scored 21 points in 30 minutes of work. He also shot 7-for-17 from the floor and added four rebounds and three dimes to his stat line for the night.
Jeff Green and Ben McLemore combined for 36 of the Rockets’ historic 42 bench points on the night. Green scored 22 points on an efficient 8-for-12 shooting from the field while McLemore connected on 4 of his seven attempted 3-pointers, totaling 14 points at the end of the game.
Houston turned the ball over only seven times and scored 44 of their points from inside the paint. Their defense was the big story of the night as they visibly hounded the Thunder every trip down the floor and made them work tirelessly every possession to get a shot off.
A win was imperative for the Rockets to secure during this first game so they can gain extra motivation and momentum as they continue to surge ahead in the series without Russell Westbrook.
Even with a win, however, there are things they can improve that can help them hm Game 2. Here are three adjustments the Rockets can make in preparation for the next game against Oklahoma City.
Next: Adjustment #1