NBA playoffs: 'When he's like that, he's unstoppable.' Kevin Durant takes over Game 1 for Warriors.


HOUSTON — The Houston Rockets spent a past year regulating any waking impulse perplexing to flog a Golden State Warriors.

Houston chased relentlessly after a No. 1 altogether seed in a West, attempting to safeguard a playoff array between these dual teams would start here. Houston spent final summer adding another fringe creator in Chris Paul to take a scoring weight off James Harden, total defensive aces in Paul, P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute to enclose Golden State’s scorers and implemented a switching defensive amour on a opening day of training stay to negate Golden State’s flitting and descent actions.

There is customarily one problem with all of that: Golden State has a actor who can’t indeed be guarded.

That player, Kevin Durant, ensured a Warriors began these Western Conference finals with a victory.

In a truly dictatorial performance, Durant finished with 37 points to lift Golden State to a 119-106 feat over Houston in Game 1 Monday night, holding all a Rockets threw during him and casting it aside.

“When he’s like that,” Klay Thompson said, “he’s unstoppable.”

So, too, is Golden State. The result? Houston’s deteriorate now boils down to Game 2 Wednesday night. Win, and a Rockets send this array behind to a Bay Area with a possibility of winning it.

Lose? Well, start scheming for a Warriors to make their fourth true NBA Finals.

It was this accurate conditions — a antagonistic highway sourroundings opposite a great, jaunty group — that Golden State followed Durant dual summers ago to solve. Before he arrived, a Warriors were receptive to situations in that they couldn’t run their streamer pass-and-move descent sets, or when Stephen Curry suffered an injury, as he did in a 2016 playoffs.

With Curry still looking reduction than 100 percent, and with Houston presenting a biggest plea Golden State has faced given Durant arrived in Jul of 2016, a Warriors indispensable any bit of Durant’s greatness.

And he delivered.

“This is given anybody would wish him on their team,” Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said. “You consider about a integrate years ago, and we’re in a Finals and we couldn’t utterly get over a hump. Kevin is a man that puts we over a hump.

“I don’t know what we do to ensure him. He can get any shot he wants.”

It was precisely that ability to get any shot he wants – no matter what defender was draped onto him – that was a disproportion in this game. Yes, Durant had help, in a form of 28 points from Klay Thompson (who was inexplicably left open time and again from three-point range, going 6-for-15). Stephen Curry also total 18 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists, notwithstanding carrying an off night, and Draymond Green had a shining all-around display (five points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists while finishing a game-high a plus-19).

But it was Durant who steadied Golden State when, right from a opening jump, Houston went for a jugular. Harden, whose different deteriorate final year was gnarled by a disintegrating act on this same justice in Game 6 of a West semifinals opposite a San Antonio Spurs, looked like he was on a goal to change that, scoring 12 discerning points as Houston jumped out to 13-4 and 21-12 leads that sent a sellout throng into a frenzy.

Green, meanwhile, picked adult an roughly evident technical foul, and Golden State struggled to find a rhythm.

Harden didn’t delayed down, tallying 24 points by halftime, 32 after 3 buliding and finishing with 41 on 14-for-24 sharpened to go with 7 assists. He scored good while sport out a diseased couple in Golden State’s invulnerability – typically possibly Curry or Kevon Looney.

But any time Harden done a basket, Durant had an answer. He finished with 13 points in that initial quarter, permitting Golden State to finish a support down by one, 30-29, instead of a double-digit necessity Houston’s play seemed to merit. And his 13 points in a third entertain helped spin a diversion that was tied during halftime into one Golden State never trailed again.

“He’s been doing it for so long,” pronounced Harden, who spent his initial 3 seasons personification alongside Durant in Oklahoma City. “He can fire over anybody. We’ve got to do a improved pursuit of being some-more physical, removing him off his spots. But he’s going to take tough shots. We’ve got to do a improved pursuit of contest, and make it even harder for him.”

Houston General Manager Daryl Morey built this group privately to try to delayed down Durant. Already with Trevor Ariza on a roster, Morey total Tucker and Mbah a Moute, dual imperishable fringe defenders who can physique adult Durant. Paul, one of a best indicate ensure defenders in joining story and someone who has traditionally had success removing into Durant’s reduce body, gave Houston another option. Harden and Eric Gordon aren’t good defenders, nonetheless both are during slightest prolonged and stout, permitting them to reason adult when Durant goes to a post.

All of them took turns on Durant. So, too, did Clint Capela, Houston’s starting core and one of a few 7-footers in a NBA means of switching onto someone as learned as Durant and remaining comfortable.

None of it mattered. Durant had his approach with all of them, proof he stays among a many unguardable players in a NBA, given his astray multiple of being 7-feet high while personification like a sharpened guard.

In fact, a customarily chairman who managed to stop Durant all night — and scarcely derailed Golden State in doing so — was Coach Steve Kerr.

With Durant cooking and Golden State adult 85-72 with 2:23 to go in a third quarter, Kerr checked Durant out of a game. As he went to a bench, Durant kept asking, “Why?”

Given he had 13 points in a entertain alone, it was a satisfactory question.

His doubt wound adult looking auspicious when a Warriors soon gave adult a three-pointer to Gordon, and Andre Iguodala fouled Paul on a three-point attempt,  immediately slicing Golden State’s lead from 13 to 7 and call Kerr to send Durant behind into a game. A missed jumper by Warriors haven Shaun Livingston was followed by a 3 from Rockets haven Gerald Green, and Houston was behind within 5 during 85-80.

“Kevin’s never happy when he comes out of a game, no matter when we take him out,” Kerr pronounced with a smile. “Yeah, he wasn’t thrilled, and we substantially should have left him in.”

The Rockets would eventually get one indicate closer after Gordon non-stop a fourth entertain with a 3 to make it 87-83 with 11:44 remaining. But Golden State responded with a 13-4 run that fittingly, given a thesis of a night, that was capped by a 3 from Durant, pulling a Warriors behind to a 13-point lead. Houston never severely challenged again.

The final mins of a diversion ebbed away, nonetheless a final outcome was never in doubt. And that was a box given Durant ensured it stayed that way.


Games like these can pitch on a smallest of plays.

What should have been an over-and-back opposite Golden State when Stephen Curry incidentally knocked a round divided from Klay Thompson instead was called in Golden State’s favor. The outcome was Thompson eventually attack a 3 to put a Warriors adult 10 with 3:54 remaining, instead of Houston carrying a possibility to get it down to four.

In a diversion and a array with such skinny margins, that could infer to be a disproportion in both.


When a Warriors took an 85-72 lead late in a third quarter, it looked like this diversion was about to get out of hand.

Instead, Steve Kerr done a bizarre preference to take Kevin Durant out of a game, and Houston immediately went on an 8-0 run to get right behind into it.

Now, a Warriors lead 92-85 early in a fourth quarter, and it positively feels like their diversion to lose. Draymond Green has hardly been a cause given picking adult his third tainted mid by a second quarter, and Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have both been good, nonetheless not great. Meanwhile, James Harden (32 points on 11-for-17) is a customarily one cooking for Houston, and is gripping a Rockets in a game.

More engaging revolution decisions here, though, to start a fourth: Kevon Looney personification in a prevalent David West minutes, and Nene behind in for Ryan Anderson after being benched in a initial half.


The atmosphere has left out of Toyota Center.

Stephen Curry customarily picked James Harden’s slot in an siege and strike a tarnishing Andre Iguodala for a asperse to make it 78-70 Golden State a small over mid by a third quarter.

For as good as Harden has been in this diversion — and he’s been great, with 30 points on 10-for-15 sharpened — Durant has been customarily as dominant, putting adult 29 nonetheless sharpened a singular giveaway chuck by removing to his mark any time down a court.

The Rockets are in risk of this diversion removing away.


One pivotal for a Rockets was to keep Trevor Ariza on a justice in a second half, after he picked adult 3 fouls.

That hasn’t left so well.

Less than 3 mins in, Ariza not customarily picked adult his fourth foul, nonetheless his fifth, withdrawal Houston nonetheless a best two-way wing, a outrageous problem in a array opposite Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant.


Twenty-four mins after things started here in Houston, they sojourn in a same place: Tied.

At halftime, a Warriors and Rockets are knotted up during 56 in Game 1 of these Western Conference finals, with a opening half fulfilling what a whole basketball universe has been watchful a past 6 months to see.

James Harden was sensational, scoring 24 points on 8-for-12 shooting, including 4-for-6 from three-point range, and looking like any bit of a presumptive MVP that he is. Kevin Durant, meanwhile, has left 8-for-13 and scored 17 points, with Houston trying probably all to stop him, and unwell any time.

Klay Thompson total 12 points and Stephen Curry 9 and 6 assists for a Warriors, who also got a large boost with 9 points from Nick Young off a bench, including a 3 to tie a diversion during 56 to finish a half.

Both teams have shot a round good — Houston is 9-for-21 from three, and Golden State is 7-for-17 — and have singular their turnovers (seven for Houston, 5 for Golden State). On a whole, a half feels like a win for a Warriors, generally with Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala singular to a total 26 mins given of tainted trouble.

It should be a stirring second half. The stakes couldn’t be higher, and a play on a justice couldn’t be many better.


Foul problem was always approaching to play a role in this series. It’s already turn a cause in a initial half of Game 1.

Houston’s Trevor Ariza and Golden State’s Draymond Green any have 3 with 4:32 remaining in a initial half, and Andre Iguodala also has dual for a Warriors. Trading Ariza for Green is a barter a Rockets will take any time, nonetheless it still does mislay dual of a some-more critical two-way players from a game.

A army on a dais competence indeed do Green some good, as he’s been all over a place so far. Ariza, though, is a customarily one of Houston’s two-way wings that can reliably strike down a three, nonetheless he’s customarily 1-for-4 so distant in this game.


Draymond Green is, as Johnny Cash once sang, walking a line here in Houston.

Green, always a romantic heartbeat of this Warriors team, has been on lean in a initial half of Game 1. He’s already picked adult a technical tainted for shoving James Harden in a opening mins of a diversion (for reasons that were unclear), and has gotten in countless extensive discussions with a referees.

This is always a wily thing with Green. He’s a engine that drives Golden State forward, nonetheless if he gets overheated he can tumble apart. And if he does, so do a Warriors.

Green’s mentality as this diversion progresses will be one of a pivotal things to monitor.


Inside Toyota Center, it felt like a Rockets were winning a initial quarter.

But Houston customarily led by one, 30-29 during a finish of a frame. The Rockets were terrific, attack 5 threes and removing 12 early points from James Harden (who strike 3 from deep). But Golden State customarily kept coming, removing 13 points from Kevin Durant, who was means to get a purify demeanour during a basket any trip.

One critical change in Houston’s revolution here to start a second entertain value watching: Ryan Anderson, benched opposite Utah, is behind tonight in place of Nene, relating adult with David West’s minutes. Houston clearly hopes his building spacing can assistance this second unit, and that West can’t take advantage defensively.


Everything went right for a Rockets early in this game. Draymond Green got a technical foul, Andre Iguodala picked adult dual fouls, Houston raced out to an early 13-4 lead. And nonetheless a Rockets still haven’t managed to lift away.

That’s a pointer of customarily how absolute this Golden State group is. It also feels like about a million things have already happened, and it’s still reduction than 7 mins into a initial quarter. There’s a ton of power in a building, and from both teams.

But if there were any doubts about how Houston would respond to a vigour of a moment, those went divided with how a Rockets started this game. That includes James Harden, who already has 12 points as Houston is adult 23-19.


The Warriors underneath Steve Kerr have customarily played things conservatively. Kerr tends to wait to start his best lineups until he positively has to, many to a discomfit of a fans and media that cover his teams.

The fact he has left divided from that line of meditative in these playoffs is interesting. The fact he chose to do so to start this Western Conference finals is notable.

By starting a “Hamptons 5? — Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green — Kerr didn’t do what he customarily likes to that is leave himself a chip in reserve. It’s a pointer of a honour a Warriors have for a Rockets, and also for a fact Kerr knows if Golden State wins this game, it could meant a array ends tonight.


Steve Kerr’s Warriors might not win Game 1, nonetheless Kerr provided the quote of a day.

Before the game, Kerr was asked about the Supreme Court preference Monday to concede states to set adult frameworks to hoop sports betting. Kerr, always and perpetually gentle in front of a microphone, didn’t hesitate.

“I’m holding Warriors and 1 1/2,” he pronounced with a smile, referring to a Warriors being underdogs in a betting markets streamer into Monday night’s diversion opposite a Rockets.


It isn’t mostly that a home group in a best-of-seven series feels like it contingency win Game 1. Yet that’s exactly the case for a Houston Rockets opposite a Golden State Warriors when a Western Conference finals flog off tonight, in what simply is one of a many hotly expected array in new memory.

It’s tough not to demeanour during this array and see parallels to a Eastern Conference semifinal array between a Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers. Like Toronto, Houston has spent a past year doggedly posterior one opponent. Like Toronto, Houston relentlessly chased after a No. 1 altogether seed in a discussion so as to secure home justice advantage. Like Toronto, Houston altered a approach it played in credentials for this accurate moment.

Now we get to see if Houston’s trail can separate from Toronto’s on a many critical stage. When Toronto fell detached in a final mins of Game 1, blank 16 of a final 18 shots and losing in overtime after never trailing in regulation, there was nearby concord around a league: The array was already over. It was customarily a matter of either Toronto would make it demeanour rival or not.

The Raptors mostly did not, and Dwane Casey was dismissed given of it.

That’s not to contend this conditions is totally analogous; Houston is, nonetheless question, a many improved group than Toronto. No one’s pursuit is on a line. The Rockets will have some-more moves to make in a destiny to urge in ways that a Raptors will have problem doing.

But Houston has positively poured all of a appetite into violence Golden State this season. A win in Game 1 would put a Warriors on a defensive, an surprising position for them, adding additional amour to Game 2.

A loss, though, could potentially see all a Rockets have built come crashing down, quite a convincing one. That’s what creates this diversion so compelling, and given a Rockets need, to find a approach to come out on top.

Schedule:

Golden State Warriors during Houston Rockets, Game 1 — 9 p.m., TNT


Additional reading:

If a Rockets flog a Warriors, Clint Capela will be a reason

LeBron James might have had a lousy Game 1, nonetheless he still has a mind like a steel trap

Marcus Morris goes to school, leads Celtics’ bid to extent LeBron James in Game 1

LeBron James owns a NBA’s Eastern Conference and isn’t prepared to let go

What we got wrong about a Boston Celtics

 James Harden’s biggest advantage is his brain

The Rockets can extent a efficacy of a Warriors’ ‘Hamptons Five’ lineup

Steve Kerr touts Warriors’ knowledge corner over Rockets: ‘Our guys have rings’

Rockets are a toughest playoff competition Steve Kerr’s Warriors have ever faced

Pau Gasol: ‘Becky Hammon can manager NBA basketball. Period.’

Dragging these injured Cavs to a NBA Finals would be LeBron James’s many conspicuous feat


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