Despite excellent Game 1, the Houston Rockets must make 3 adjustments

Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Danilo Gallinari (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

3. The Houston Rockets Must Slow Down Danilo Gallinari

The dominance of the Rockets overshadowed his performance, but the sweet-shooting big man from France turned in a career game for the Thunder against a rigid Houston Rockets defense. Danilo Gallinari posted a playoff career-high 29 points while shooting 9-for-17 from the floor in Game 1.

Gallinari was forced into numerous difficult shots by the Rockets’ defense and still managed to make several contested looks that his teammates couldn’t pay to make throughout the night. Gallinari played 33 minutes and was running all over the floor on the defensive end, chasing quicker and more agile Rocket players.

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Despite all that, Gallinari gave the Rockets problems, and their defensive focus needs to have more emphasis on containing him because Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will return to form and get their numbers.

Houston can’t afford to let Gallinari have a hot-shooting game as he did in Game 1.

At 6-foot-10, Danilo is a tall player with limited speed, but he can stretch the floor and poses a considerable mismatch for all of the Rockets’ interior defenders in the paint.

So, if they can neutralize Gallinari and continue to slow down the Thunder’s talented backcourt, they’ll be able to control this series from here on out.

Overall, the Rockets did their job and dominated from front to back in their 2020 playoff debut, and they’ll look to keep the momentum on their side in hopes of winning Game 2 to secure a huge advantage over the young, but determined OKC Thunder squad.

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Game 2 is set for Thursday, Aug. 20, at 3:30 ET on ESPN.