After working hard all season to secure the number one seed in the Western Conference and the luxury of home-court advantage against the Golden State Warriors, the Houston Rockets immediately relinquished it in game one.
They suffered a 119-106 loss at home against the defending champions and now have a much tougher task on their hands to make it to the NBA Finals.
The Rockets were outplayed in the second half of their opening conference finals matchup with the Dubs and will have to win at least one game on the road to take back control.
But before they can think about securing a win in Oakland, they'll have to even the series in game two and avoid a second straight defeat at home on Wednesday night.
According to Eric Gordon, however, they'll struggle to overcome the Warriors if they play the same style of basketball as they did in the first game.
Head coach Mike D'Antoni took a lot of criticism for allowing James Harden to play one-on-one for most of the game which ultimately became very predictable and easy for their opponents to defend.
Gordon had a decent outing off the bench as he posted 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting but he is hoping to see more of the ball so he can have a bigger impact on the game.
“I definitely would like to get the ball more for me to be aggressive and get good looks,” said Gordon, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “Offensively with everybody, we really don’t get real good looks.”
The Rockets rarely moved the ball and stuck to their iso strategy on almost every play. Point guard Chris Paul, who averaged eight assists per game in the regular season, had just three against the Warriors.
Despite being successful all year with this brand of basketball, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year believes it's not enough against an elite defensive team.
“We can’t isolate as much against a good defensive team. I don’t care who you are,” said Gordon. “We have some of the best isolation players out there. But against a team like that, it’s going to be too tough.”
Houston ran 45 iso plays in the game, the most in the last five years in the playoffs, per Clutchpoints.
Harden ran 26 of these on his own but despite being relatively successful with 41 points on 14-of-24 shooting, it didn't result in a win.
Getting the likes of Gordon, Trevor Ariza and P.J. Tucker more involved will be key and it'll be up to Harden and Paul to pull the strings and find them open looks.
The Rockets simply cannot afford to lose game two which makes it the biggest game of their season.
Listen HERE to episode two of the new GiveMeSport NBA podcast, featuring New York Times senior writer Marc Stein.
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