Everyone expected the Rockets to fall but few of us expected to see a 104-78 beating by the Warriors. The eight seed from Houston got a free schooling from the NBA champions and with the loss, they are three games away from elimination.
The Rockets were straight up embarrassed on national TV, they were outclassed and the Warriors had the upper hand from the tipoff to final whistle. The Warriors led by double digits for most of the game and the Rockets starters barely played in the fourth quarter.
Let this sink in, Stephen Curry played 19 minutes and the Warriors still managed to win by nearly 30 points. Here are my three takeaways.
Why did Corey Brewer start?
I mean I understand why Corey Brewer started, but seriously J.B Bickerstaff, why did he start?! The Rockets had not started a small ball lineup in a pretty long while, and yet the playoffs against the best team in the NBA sounded like a great time to dust off that strategy?
"The last few weeks we've been playing traditional with D-Mo (Donatas Motiejunas) on the floor," James Harden said of the small ball lineup, "we just figure out how to get our movement with that small lineup, get guys in different spots to where they could be more effective."
It would seem the Rockets might have outsmarted themselves on the game plan.
The Rockets wanted to play small ball with the Warriors and match up with them. I am fine with that, but once it was clear Brewer did not have it Bickerstaff should have yanked him. That is Bickerstaff's thing, supposedly: play well and playing time is earned. Brewer's offense did not reward the 28 minutes he played, only scoring three points. He was active, causing some turnovers and even making some good defensive plays. But you needed more offense Saturday night and he wasn't giving it to you.
Michael "All I know how to do is score" Beasley only played five minutes. You had absolutely nothing on offense but yet Andrew Goudelock played more? What... Why???
What the shit
If you have followed my takeaways series in the past, you will know I rarely call out the referees. Usually through the course of a game, everything evens out and it's not really that big of a deal. Saturday afternoon was no such game.
The referees were against the Rockets from tip-off. When they were driving on the offensive end the Warriors got to be pretty physical with them at the rim. James Harden even picked up a fourth foul driving to the basket, he had zero free throws on the night. You could count on one hand the number of games Harden had zero free throws this year and you would still have fingers left over.
You tell me, was the game called fairly?
Rockets never left the hotel
Only a few players on the team managed to make it out of the hotel. The stars that were supposed to shine the brightest, flopped and looked like ghosts of their regular season selves (not to mention their 2015 selves). Whether it was the referees taking the team out of the game or the stage being just too big them, almost all of the Rockets looked lost out on the court.
Harden after not getting his normal foul calls, he went into a shell and was not much of a factor, save for the brief third quarter comeback that brought the lead down to 15. Dwight Howard did not play with the fire that he had in last season's playoffs, he was slow and his hands were made out of bricks as he lost at least six (by my count) rebounds and potential dunks as they fell through his fingers.
Patrick Beverley and Jason Terry were the only guys in my eyes that looked like they were ready for the moment. Beverley was locked in all game long, flying all over the place. He didn't score many points, but he left an impact with his fire. After going back through a bunch of different possessions, I came to realize Terry was one of the few players who looked like he knew what he was supposed to do at every moment during the game.
The Rockets made it to the playoffs, but at this point they haven't really made into a playoff game yet.
"It's one game," Beverley said, "had won by a buzzer beater or 100 points it's still one game, we won't let that affect us the next game."