We did it everybody!
It took the MVP sitting out of a road game, but we finally got a fun game out of round one of the NBA Playoffs!
James Harden played one of his best games of the season, and hit a beautiful step back jumper to give the Rockets a one point lead with seconds to play.
On the ensuing inbound Draymond Green fumbled a pass off of his leg and the Rockets took Game 3, 97-96.
The Beard broke out all of his old tricks last night, driving into the lane with full intentions of either getting fouled or making a pass to wide open teammate. Harden finished the night with 35 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists. He got to the free throw line five times and made 9-11 shots from the stripe.
Dwight Howard had a dominant first half for the Rockets, getting himself into great post up position on many possessions, and was a force coming of pick-and-rolls. There are moments when Howard still looks like the All World Center that he was five years ago, but he spent much of the second half as an afterthought on offense, and had to be pulled when Golden State started to play Hack-A-Howard late in the game.
The Warriors were struggling to come up with consistent offense, Klay Thompson and Green both struggled with their games. Klay only shot 7-20 from the field and Green finished the game with 7 turnovers and struggled with his shot as well.
Maurice Speights was the best player for Golden State Thursday night, his 22 points were what kept the champs in the game. He was even able to extend past his regular mid-game range, making three of six three point attempts.
Ian Clark also made some great plays down the stretch for the Warriors, Steve Kerr has shown a lot of faith in the rookie this year and it paid dividends last night. Clark hit a couple of layups late in the contest, including one that put Golden State up one point before Harden’s heroics.
It took every last bit of fight for the Rockets to hold of the Warriors. To be honest, I didn’t think this team had that much fight left in them. When Harden and Howard are both playing hard this is still a tough out for any team in the league.
The question now becomes how bad is Curry’s ankle really bothering him? It has been an easy decision to keep Steph out of these games given the Warriors have been cruising to wins, but now that Houston has a win will Steve Kerr push to have the MVP back in game four?
My hunch is that Curry will sit in the next game if he is still feeling considerable pain, and is not able to play at close to 100%. The Warriors had an off game in almost every metric and were still one shot away from winning Game Three. There’s no need for the World Champs to put there best player at risk.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 131 – DALLAS MAVERICKS 102
All of the usual suspects showed up for the Thunder last night. Westbrook started the game off by getting his teammates involved (15 AST) and became more of a scorer late (26 PTS). Durant came out shooting early and often, and did a good job of getting to the foul line. He finished the night with 34 points, with nine points coming from the FT line. The Thunder got excellent production from their role players; with Ibaka, Kanter and Waiters combining for 56 points.
TORONTO RAPTORS 101 – INDIANA PACERS 85
With the minutes restriction lifted off of DeMare Carroll, the Raptors super utility man flourished. Carroll played stifling defense on Paul George, holding the All Star to only 6-19 shooting. He was also a factor on offense, scoring 17 points in 35 minutes. DeMar DeRozan had a a comeback game of sorts, scoring 21 points, getting to the foul line plenty and playing more like his regular self. Kyle Lowry had another strong game scoring 21 points and dishing out 8 assists. I’m becoming more and more of a fan of Corey Joseph whose play off the bench for Toronto has been outstanding, he finished last night with 10 points, 4 assists, and a steal in 24 solid minutes of play.