The lack of homecourt advantage in the NBA Playoffs is so weird. Normally, we’d be talking about how the Houston Rockets held serve in Game 1 and that a playoff series doesn’t truly begin until the road team wins a game.
Obviously, that’s all out the window in the bubble. Every game is a game on a neutral site. Everything really comes down to Xs and Os along with execution.
The Rockets outplayed the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1. That was evident in the final score and the body language throughout most of the game. Other than a couple of runs that OKC was always going to make, Houston controlled the tempo and the scoreboard. The Rockets played their best defense of the season and bamboozled the Thunder with their small ball lineup.
There is danger in complacency. Look no further than Utah’s Game 2 dismantling of the Denver Nuggets to see how one game has no bearing on the following contest, especially between teams that are close in level. In the small sample size of a single game, it’s hard to draw conclusions about how a series will eventually end. Anyone that doesn’t think Billy Donovan, Chris Paul, and the rest of the Thunder won’t come in with a higher level of intensity to start Game 2 doesn’t watch playoff basketball. The first quarter is going to be the bellwether for Houston’s focus and ability to take a 2-0 lead.
We’ve seen a few upsets in the first three days of the playoffs, and the big thing to remember is that everything comes down to how well teams are playing. Portland came into Game 1 playing better than the Lakers, and the Blazers won. The talent level should still favor Los Angeles, but that wasn’t relevant.
The Rockets will need more contributions from their role players today like they got in Game 1. With Russell Westbrook still out indefinitely, James Harden is going to need Jeff Green, Eric Gordon, and the rest of the crew to carry the water moving forward.
Tip-off is at 2:30pm CT on AT&T SportsNet Southwest and ESPN