The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Houston Rockets last night 120-91 in Game 1 of their first round series.
The game was much hyped because of James Harden’s return to Chesapeake Energy Arena for his first playoff game wearing red.
The Thunder came out and sent a message. The message being that the only way Houston isn’t losing by 20-plus points is if Harden comes out and scored 40.
Game 1 showed how this matchup is such a bad one for the Rockets. The Thunder brought their playoff defense and other than a few minor breakdowns when Houston went small, smothered the Rockets on every possession.
The game began with Houston turning the ball over a few times and the Thunder racing back down the court the other way.
Russell Westbrook put the most pressure on the Rockets’ defense attacking their point guards constantly. Russ would finish with 19 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.
The fact that Westbrook is going to be able to do whatever he wants and get wherever he wants in this series is a death sentence for the Rockets. Their only hope is getting Westbrook to turn the ball over and shoot a low percentage and that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.
Kevin Durant could have shot better but still ended up with 24 in the game. He went 1-for-5 from downtown and surprisingly only had four assists despite the Thunder getting hot from downtown.
Durant took over for a stretch in the third quarter running point for OKC. Houston didn’t have an answer and it was a statement from Durant that he’s going to be able to have his way with them the rest of the series.
The biggest lift for the Thunder was Serge Ibaka, who scored 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting. The Thunder are hoping for a third scorer to emerge in these playoffs and Ibaka did just that last night.
He hit some tough midrange jumpers with a defender right on him but the best thing was that his teammates were able to find him on a consistent basis.
This game was about what we expected. The Thunder came out strong and Houston is no match for them when they are playing well. OKC actually could have played better and shot a little better which is a scary thought for Houston.
This series will live up to its 1 vs. 8 billing. The Thunder will make quick work of the Rockets. The only way Houston is winning a game will be behind a huge Harden attack.