We’ve seen this story before. A prototypical Warriors performance filled with focus and determination and surgical execution against a team they’ve been gearing up for — a statement game.
Followed by a classic “we know we are better than you so what’s the point” phone-it-in game. And that’s exactly what Wednesday’s 127-105 Game 2 Rockets beatdown appeared to be.
Kevin Durant did his best to drag the lifeless bodies of his teammates to a win but even his 38 points was not enough. He picked up right where he left off in Game 1, being unstoppable in any isolation setting shooting 13-of-22 from the field.
The problem as it has always been for the Warriors is that when they aren’t locked in, they get loose with the ball. They finished with 15 turnovers but seven of them came in the first quarter and it felt more like 30 as each came in back-breaking fashion.
They also got absolutely zero from anyone not named Durant. Stephen Curry was the only other Warriors in double figures with 16, but he was just 1-of-8 from deep and still hasn’t found his shooting stroke.
He attacked the rim and finished around the Rockets but it was all a battle. The Rockets offensive strategy also wore him down as he was put in pick-and-roll almost every play, while having to battle staying in front of James Harden.
It is tough to ask someone to go that hard and that often on defense while still maintaining offensive efficiency — but especially when that player, Curry in this case, may not have his conditioning back following an extended injury absence.
Klay Thompson also struggled with his shot selection and finished with just eight points. Thompson and Curry combined for just 24 points — or just two more points than P.J. Tucker. Tucker actually made shots like he didn’t do in Game 1. He hit his first field goal of the series in the second quarter, and from that point on missed just one shot attempt, going 8-of-9 and 5-of-6 from deep.
And once Tucker started draining shots so did all the Rockets role players. Trevor Ariza had 19 and Eric Gordon poured in 27 and squashed any run the Warriors tried to make. The support unit wasn’t completely without its lead dogs, though, as Harden (27) and Chris Paul (16) combined for 43.
When the Warriors struggle to score and drag on defense they start to make questionable decisions. Draymond Green started playing on offense the same way he plays on defense, frenetic, always in motion — which is a bad thing. He no longer reads the defense, instead tries to make extra passes that don’t need to be thrown because the defense hasn’t even rotated.
And when Green gets rattled, the Warriors get rattled. And when the Warriors get rattled they start launching early-shot clock 3’s and trying for home runs on offense, and defense.
Then they get blown out — just like clockwork.
It’ll be an unusual sight at Oracle Sunday, as the Oakland crowd will see a Game 3 for the first time since 2014.
With his 38 points, Kevin Durant has now scored 20 or more in 19 consecutive playoff games. The performance is also Durant’s 53rd 30-point playoff game, tying him with Hakeem Olajuwon for ninth-most all time.