JAMES HARDEN...STILL ELITE AT BASKETBALL
Sometimes I find myself convinced that we all truly don't realize how ridiculous James Harden is as an offensive juggernaut. With Russell Westbrook expected to miss the early portion of this series while recovering from a quad injury, "The Beard" is expected to carry a heavy amount of the load offensively.
Harden was fantastic in Game 1 and set the tone for the rest of the series.
CHRIS PAUL SHOWS UP
While a number of complementary pieces on the Thunder failed to show up in Game 1, Chris Paul was his usual self. CP3 would finish the game with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists. Unfortunately for the Thunder as a unit, this game was never as close as the score might suggest...which is saying something. Houston opened this game up with an 8 point lead after the first quarter, and would outscore the Thunder 40-32 in the second quarter, taking a 16 point lead into the first half.
HOUSTON IMPRESSES AS A TEAM
Big "statement" performance from the Houston Rockets team overall, especially without the play of Russell Westbrook (quad). Houston grabbed control of this game early and never looked back, leading by as much as 23 at one point in the game. While James Harden was spectacular as expected, a number of other pieces to the puzzle stood out with their performances in Game 1. Veteran forward Jeff Green was fantastic for Houston off of the bench. Green would finish with 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists in 32 minutes. Green would also finish with a team high +/- of 28. Eric Gordon (21 points) and Ben McLemore (14 points) also chipped in with solid performances for Houston.
Houston, even without Westbrook, is still going to be a difficult offensive force to deal with. OKC is going to have to step it up on the offensive side of the ball in Game 2 and figure out a way to slow down Harden.