These two teams are in line for a special finish tonight and potentially a special series overall. That was seven games better than Golden State, which dealt with a host of injuries in the second half of the season as the Rockets flew past them in the standings.
The Rockets will try to get things back on track by going for that knockout in Game 2 in Houston on Wednesday.
No one said it would be easy.
Gordon added a layup for Houston after that, but Golden State scored the next six points, with a 3-pointer from Thompson, to make it 79-70 with about 4 1/2 minutes left in the third. Both teams are among the league's best first-quarter teams. Capela was solid and Eric Gordon had a few nice scoring spurts, but the Rockets' other role players were mostly terrible. P.J. Tucker missed all three of his shots and Trevor Ariza was in foul trouble. Looney was game, but Harden victimized him several times.
Neil Greenberg, a sports analytics reporter for the Washington Post, says they are among the most efficient teams at scoring, because they rely heavily on the three-point shot.
Nobody in a Rockets uniform had any answer for Kevin Durant Monday.
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The Warriors have faced some major challenges in their run of two championships in the last three years, but is this their toughest one yet? "You just (saw) this game. He can get a bucket as well as anybody on Earth".
As we stumble into middle age, we know just enough to know that we know very little.
The Warriors appeared to lose the ball in the back court after a long rebound, but no violation was called and Thompson sank a 3-pointer seconds later for a 106-96 edge with 3:55 to play, all-but sealing Houston's fate.
Golden State and Houston headed into half-time tied at 56.
But then the Warriors did what they have done all season long-controlled the second half.
The Warriors need Green to play with passion, but when he goes overboard like this, it does more harm than good.
"Obviously, we're the underdog", Houston head coach Mike D'Antoni said Monday night before Game 1 at the Toyota Center. If Houston is going to have any chance of winning this one, the rest of the roster will have to show up.