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We Have Ourselves A Damn Series

We’ve been waiting for a good game. Just one.

May 23, 2018 - 9:43 am
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Throughout the conference finals, we’ve been waiting for a good game. Just one. And last night finally delivered. Houston’s win over Golden State wasn’t just one good game, that was roughly five games in one. And now we have ourselves a damn series. 

Let’s go back to the beginning of the game, which already feels like it was ten days ago. But you’ll recall that Houston was coming off a 41-point loss in Game 3. But then came the news that Andre Iguodala wouldn’t play, so that was good for them. And then came the start of the game, and that was very bad for them.

Thompson for 2. Curry for 3. Looney for 2. Green for 2. KD for 3. 12-0 Warriors and it seemed like Golden State was about to pitch a shutout. Even without Iggy, the Warriors came out swinging and the Rockets were punch-drunk. They were wandering around the court, so out of sync, so off-kilter that James Harden passed up a wide-open three. It looked like the series was going to be over before the quarter ended. And you could already hear the Harden critics warming up. 

But then something changed. Maybe Harden wasn’t locked in early. Maybe he wasn’t on point, but then he got locked in. And he did so in a hurry. 

And no bigger moment in their first quarter comeback than this. James Harden meet Draymond Green

Somehow, after nearly getting knocked out in the first quarter, Houston got up off the mat, and starting landing shots of their own. And not just jabs, they were swinging from their heels. And connecting.

And then with less than two minutes to go in the half, Harden had back-to-back huge steals. This one setting up Chris Paul.

And this strip of Kevin Durant that he finished himself.

Absolutely unreal. Harden silenced that crowd in a hurry. An incredible first half from Harden and Paul. After being down 12-0, Harden and Paul outscored the Warriors 38-34 the rest of the half. 

Houston took a 7-point lead into the half, but you knew Golden State was going to have something for them in the third quarter. And they did. Steph Curry went crazy. Again. 

He dropped 17 on Houston in the third and completely flipped the tables on the Rockets. And going into the fourth, Golden State was back up by 10 and the game looked like it was over. Again. 

And it wasn’t. Because Houston came back. After eating punches in the first quarter and coming back, they were again swallowing haymakers. But took every one of Golden State’s punches, waited for Dubs to punch themselves out, and then they came back again. And if you didn’t know by now, these guys are tough as hell. PJ Tucker was huge. Eric Gordon lived up to the Splash Gordon rep. 

But really, this was about the fact that James Harden is a monster. And Chris Paul is a wizard. Don’t believe me, check that baseline curveball, wrap-around, what-the-hell, pass to Trevor Ariza for three. 

But here’s the thing. Houston didn’t win that game with their offense. They won it with their defense. They locked Golden State up in the fourth. After exploding in the third and watching Steph go off, they had nothing in the last 12 minutes. As great as they were in the third quarter, they were that bad in the fourth. 

Golden State was 3 of 18 from the field and 0 of 6 from three in fourth quarter. The Warriors were so uncomfortable, so out of rhythm, so out of sync, that even when they had a chance to tie the game late, the best they could do was a rough look from Klay Thompson. And that only happened because Kevin Durant passed up the shot. 

And I know the Warriors were trying to call timeout there, but the refs didn’t see it, they didn’t get it, and they didn’t get a great shot. Golden State didn’t get the look it wanted, but the world finally got the series it wanted. 

And the Warriors, for the first time in the KD Era, are being tested. If Game 2 wasn’t a wakeup call, then Game 4 sure as hell was and now we have a series. Game 5, tomorrow night, in Houston.