Draymond Green

Warriors finally play “A+ basketball,” demolish Rockets

That was an absolute bludgeoning. A cakewalk. The Warriors outscored the Rockets in every quarter and won by 35 points (115-80) in a game the Rockets absolutely had to have, at home! It almost made you feel sorry for those Houston fans who chanted “M-V-P” and made “THE REAL MVP” signs for James Harden, who went 3-for-16 and scored 17 points. His Rockets were -31 when he was on the floor.

How perfectly has this series encapsulated the MVP campaigns of Harden and Stephen Curry? Harden looked like a magician in a couple of losses, while Curry’s numbers looked almost as good but not quite as triple-double-y as Harden’s. Still, Curry came through with a defensive play at the end of Game 2 that showed just how different these players are.

Harden needs to do everything himself. Or maybe that’s just how he prefers it. Curry is more than willing to get help from a teammate, and he and Klay Thompson effectively ended the Rockets’ season with the best trap in Warriors history. (Go ahead and call me out in the comments if there’s a better one, but I’m feeling pretty confident on this.)

Houston had to win this game. HAD TO. Curry dropped 40 points and seven assists on the Rockets. He went 7-for-9 on threes and kept doing things no one else in the world can do. But this wasn’t just about Curry. The Warriors put together their best game of the playoffs, despite turning the ball over a few too many times in the second half, and they squashed the Rockets’ never-say-die attitude in the process.

The Warriors still haven’t lost to the Rockets this season. I’m betting they won’t lose Game 4, either. Not after the way Curry boxed out Dwight Howard, which caused Howard to foul Curry in frustration two straight times. Not with the way Andre Iguodala stole the ball, and instead of dunking with no one around, waited until a Rocket — any Rocket — came and contested the play. Iguodala was looking to steal an extra few seconds, but he also highlighted just how lazy and defeated the Rockets were when he stood there for a while, before moseying over to the basket and casually dunking with two hands.

***

I’ve refrained from writing about my baby, because no one wants to hear about another person’s kid. What a parent thinks is cute is usually either boring or cringeworthy to anyone who isn’t related to you. But tonight I’m going to make an exception.

I knew “covering” this game (I feel kind of silly calling it that, when what I’m really doing is couch-blogging) was going to be difficult, because my wife was going to take her mom out for a birthday dinner. That left me at home with a bottle of milk and a list of bedtime tasks for our six-month-old, so I prepared to ignore the game until after bedtime and go into DVR-mode for Game 3.

However, my parenting responsibilities ended up being as easy as the Warriors’ task on Saturday night. My daughter couldn’t have been in a better mood. She let me watch the entire first half without getting up off the couch, and when she squawked a little in the third quarter, putting her in the Baby Bjorn turned her mild complaints into happy cheers (I’m assuming she was a fan of what the Warriors were doing, although it’s more likely that she enjoyed watching people from our living room window while I watched Curry nail threes and tease the Houston crowd).

My wife wouldn’t admit this, but she was probably worried that without her (which equates to a road game for a new dad), I’d have a tough night — just like many wondered whether the Warriors would struggle in Game 3. By the fourth quarter, I was making jokes on Twitter at the Rockets’ expense, and my daughter was cooing at images on our TV. She’s a fan already.

Dub Steps

Like I wrote earlier today, the Warriors are a really, really good road team.

“Game 3 is going to be really important for us, because we have to continue to try to play at a higher level than we have been the last two games. We haven’t played A+ basketball. We’ve got to continue to get there. This is a situation where you can kind of relax, which is not good.” — Iguodala

— Brandon Rush scored more points (three) than Harrison Barnes (zero, and he was 0-for-9). Barnes did a nice job defending Harden, though.

— The Warriors were terrific against Harden. Part of that was Harden missing some of those difficult jumpers he made in Games 1 and 2, but the Warriors gave him several different looks. Here’s Barnes. Here’s Klay Thompson. Here’s a double-team. Here’s Andre Iguodala.

— Draymond Green is a phenomenal rebounder. He had 13 tonight, and that’s a big reason why he was a game-high +36. He also had 17 points and five assists, yet another almost-triple-double for Green in this series.

— You knew it was bad for the Rockets when David Lee ended the first half with a right-handed layup to put the Warriors up by 25.

— And it was pretty sad for the Rockets that Jalen Rose called out Howard at halftime as the one guy who was putting out some real effort, and that was after he was boxed out by a guy who’s smaller than 90% of NFL quarterbacks.

— Andrew Bogut wants a title. If you had any doubt about this before, just re-watch tonight’s game.

— Festus Ezeli is increasing his future earnings by A LOT in this series. Good for him, he kept himself in incredible shape last year, even though he was too injured to play a single game.

— The Warriors invited me and a few others (Danny Leroux, Adam Lauridsen, Jordan Ramirez, Grant Hughes) to answer five questions for their “Bloggers Roundtable” (It’s a website, gosh darn it!). Here’s the last question …

5. What do you expect from Game 3?

Steve Berman, Bay Area Sports Guy: Even though the Rockets lost two games by a grand total of five points, I see the strongest Warriors victory yet in these Conference Finals. The Rockets gave it their all and failed in the first two games, while the Warriors played far from “A+ basketball” — especially offensively — and still prevailed. The Warriors’ poise on the road has been impressive in these playoffs, as they seem to get tunnel vision and focus on how they’ve won all season: ferocious defense and offensive ball movement that’s both quick and precise.

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