Houston Rockets: G2: What has put the team in driver’s seat against OKC

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets guard James Harden (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets have put themselves in the driver’s seat in their first-round matchup against OKC. What went on? It’s time to talk about what mattered.

Houston Rockets‘ faithful — if you would have asked me to bet money on today’s matchup, as contradicting as it may sound, my money would have been on OKC. My wager would have been on the Thunder only because of the embarrassment that they suffered in the first game, I expected Chris Paul and the Oklahoma City Thunder to come back with a vengeance.

I’m happy I was wrong.

With Russell Westbrook still out, the key to winning Game 2 was dependent on the rest of the team stepping up like they did last game, as well as keeping the same game pace and momentum that OKC couldn’t keep up with. But if OKC’s guards played better this game, that would pose a definite threat because we didn’t see much from them in the last contest.

The beginning of the first quarter was more in Thunder’s favor than the Rockets. Steven Adams had an aggressive start and the Houston Rockets didn’t have an answer for it.  Eric Gordon was slow to start on the offensive side but remained consistent with his defense.

The end of the quarter drew concern because although our defense has been outstanding, we weren’t playing at the same pace, or with the same hustle or intensity that won us the first game, and with a team like OKC, and players like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who had more FG’s in the first quarter then he did all last game, they’re bound to dominate the rest of the game if you give them a chance.

The first two playoff games have been full of unexpected surprises, to which in the second quarter that surprise was Austin Rivers and his undeniable confidence. He had two spectacular back-to-back threes, followed by a clutch dunk widening the lead to 45-40. That confidence drove the Rockets through the rest of the second quarter, but it wasn’t enough to hold on to the lead, and they ended the half trailing 59-53.

During the half, Mike D’Antoni told ESPN that “sometimes our bad shooting affects our

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defense,” which it was. Had we made even half of the shots we missed the lead would have been substantially larger, and that negative momentum was affecting their whole game. James Harden said after Game 1 that “we can do better” but we weren’t seeing it so far from the team, to which Harden himself ended the game with just 21 points, which is a tad bit low for his standards.

The third quarter was pretty consistent with the rest of the game, but the fourth quarter is when the guys finally started to look like the team we saw during the first game. Jeff Green finally started heating up and continued to prove that he’s found a home on the Houston Rockets roster.

This quarter was all about the Rockets’ bench guys, it proved to everyone that even without Westbrook and without Harden because he didn’t contribute much to this game, the Houston Rockets are still a team to be feared and that was amazing to see.

In order for the Houston Rockets to continue winning and potentially sweep OKC, the guys are going to have to be consistent with their defense. They’re playing better defense now in the bubble than we have ever seen and it’s because of this that they are doing so well.

P.J. Tucker should be allowed to retire with the Rockets. dark. Next

Our team has to continue stepping up in the absence of our “stars” and also tightening up their shooting. The Rockets are known to be a shooting team, the first game there were 20, threes made, so that’s another obvious game-changer.  Harden said it himself, they can be better so it will be fun to see what happens in Game 3. Either way, it’s clear once again, the Houston Rockets are all on one mission!