Ouch. Game 1 of the MVP series sees Houston routing Oklahoma City by 31 points to take commanding control of the series at home.
In what started out as a close contest at the end of the first quarter (OKC-29 HOU-27) quickly started to get out of hand in the second half as Houston took over on both sides of the ball. Houston’s backcourt tandem of Beverley and Harden dominated the night going for a combined 58 points on 21-of-41 shooting on the night. Beverley also played a beautiful defensive game against Westbrook forcing the MVP candidate to nine turnovers and helping to hold him to near 25% shooting on the night.
This is not how OKC wanted this series to start. Houston already can match them physically and athletically, and tonight it just seemed Houston was the better team in every way. Oklahoma City was out-rebounded, out hustled, and abused in the paint all night. Oklahoma City had no answer for Houston’s high pick and roll attacks and there were many sets that Oklahoma City’s defense was just motionless as Harden took them apart.
The surprising start to the series is that the Rockets only connected on 10-of-33 from the three-point line and managed to still win by 31 points. A team that is accustomed to making 14 three-point baskets while shooting 40 a game in the regular season found success in the paint in game one. The Rockets outscored the Thunder 62-38 in the paint. The rebounding effort was also won by Houston as they outrebounded OKC by 62-48, 14 of the Rockets boards were on the offensive end.
Oklahoma City is going to have to do better on offense. Besides Westbrook, only two other Thunder players scored in double figures. Oladipo was a non factor this game and if Oklahoma City hopes to have any chance in this series he’ll have to put up more than 6 PTS on 1-of-12 FGs. I would like to see Oklahoma City try to run a lineup of Westbrook-Grant-Roberson-Sabonis-Adams and maybe try to go small ball on Houston and generate some quick offense. Defensively it’s going to be a struggle for Oklahoma City, so it might just be in their best interest to try to score in bunches when they can. Take their chances to slow down the pace with Gibson and Kanter when they need to, and maybe adapt a more pick and roll game to expose Harden more on defense.
Game two is on Wednesday in Houston. Tip-off at 8:00 PM EST on TNT.
Baseline Times Staff Writer