Miércoles, 19 Setiembre, 2018

Cavaliers, Rockets romp in 2nd round playoff openers

Matchup to watch: Rockets vs. Spurs (Game 1 West Semifinals) Highlights: James Harden
Eleena Tovar | 04 May, 2017, 16:26

But after four straight wins to finish off the Bulls and overcoming a slow start and lost tooth by Thomas to earn a double-digit win over the Wizards in the opener of the East semifinals, Boston now resembles the team it looked like at the end of regular season. However, I agree with the talking heads on one thing: this is not the same Spurs team from the last several years.

Houston Rockets guard James Harden laughs with center Clint Capela during Rockets practice as they prepare for Game 2 of the second-round of the Western Conference NBA playoffs at AT&T Center, Tuesday, May 2, 2017, in San Antonio. We weren't really making a lot of 3s. The San Antonio Spurs are allowing 40 percent shooting from deep and are grabbing 40.7 rebounds per game.

Despite the Game 1 results, the Spurs are still the overall better team.

Game 1 of San Antonio vs. Houston was the ideal storm of the Spurs' weaknesses (athleticism, wing depth, multiple playmakers) being exaggerated by the Rockets' strengths (athleticism, pace, shooting). Gregg Popovich is one of the best head coaches in the National Basketball Association, and it will be interesting to see what adjustments he makes to counteract Houston's offensive attack in Game 2.

The Raptors shot 44 per cent on the night, and were 10 of 26 from three-point range. Houston launched up 50 three-point attempts in the game, hitting 22 of them en route to its blowout victory. The Rockets' brilliance, though, is how they marry science with art, primarily creating these opportunities through the playmaking of James Harden. "He competed, we all competed, but I have to take my time down there and make them pay". When they weren't running, it was a heavy - and I mean heavy - dose of pick-and-rolls that involved LaMarcus Aldridge, David Lee and Pau Gasol. But we've got to find a way to not let them get going and get everyone involved, and getting the crowd involved.

If the Spurs are going to defeat the Rockets, then the players most rotate within the scheme and ensure that Houston's cast of shooters are given no breathing room. Aldridge finished with just four points while Danny Green finished with eight and Tony Parker with 11; that can't happen if San Antonio expects to keep pace with Houston's high-octane offense.

Leonard had 21 points, fighting his way to 5-for-14 shooting. "If we're going to shoot quickly and shoot poorly, it's going to be a fast-break deal all night long, and they were better at that than we are".

"The league is changing", Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. Houston was excellent defensively as well, limiting the Spurs to just 39 points in the first half.

"It's no excuse, but the last series (Memphis) was a little bit different", Aldridge said.

It wasn't just the fact that the Rockets took an early series lead. In moments they showed that they can hang with Cleveland - particularly during that second quarter 19-3 run. And the validation of his imprint on the game has moved past him, anyway - have you seen the Golden State Warriors play, lately? Houston is 7-2 in such games; Boston did it once in a win as well.