Warriors take crucial Game 1 over Rockets in Western Conference Finals

Mike D'Antoni says Houston's season won't be a failure if they don't win a championship

The Warriors took their first lead of the game in the second quarter on another Nick Young three-pointer, 38-35.

For fans who want to stream the Golden State vs. Houston opening game matchup for free without cable login credentials, a feed from TNT Overtime will also stream at the above link, or on most mobile devices. In Game 2 between the Celtics vs. Cavaliers, expect the Celtics to continue their dominance until the series goes back to Cleveland. They're going to have runs like that, they're going to make two unbelievable shots, they're going insane and all that. Deemed the series to be watching, the Rockets won two out of three against the Warriors during the regular season, and both teams finished the regular season with the best records in the Western Conference. They'll surely play better in Game 2 but will that be enough? They have a bench filled with defensive stalwarts who can cover multiple positions.

Harden, meanwhile, was next to Durant on the Oklahoma City Thunder the last time he reached the NBA Finals, and is eager to overcome his own playoff shortcomings. Simply put, the Warriors are a juggernaut. The main scouting question for them is just how long Draymond Green can anchor the Death Lineup at center with Clint Capela manning the middle for the Rockets. This came after a regular season where the fourth-year player posted career highs in virtually every statistical category. They have the only backcourt in the league that can compare pretty favorably with the Warriors, combining two All-NBA guards in Chris Paul and James Harden.

Houston is 50-5 this season in games where all three have played, and during the regular season the Rockets outscored their opponents in those games by an average of 11.5 points.

The Rockets are more than just their two future Hall of Fame guards, however. The offseason signings of P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute galvanized that declaration. And when your secondary options on offense are Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, giving them room to work is nearly akin to conceding the game. Capela is on a tear in this postseason, and his offensive rim-running will test a Warriors squad that is thin up front.

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"These guys are champions for a reason and they've shown on the big stage that they can perform at a very, very, very high level - as good as anybody ever", he said. Paul's historically excellent individual playoff stats have been undermined by his lack of team success in the postseason. And I can't say I blame him. Durant converted consecutive baskets midway through the second quarter to push Golden State to a lead. While Curry is nowhere close to a turnstile on the defensive end, however, he is nowhere close to CP3 on that end of the floor.

How the Warriors corral Harden and Paul on drives and midrange jumpers will resonate.

For the first time in four years, the Golden State Warriors will start a National Basketball Association (NBA) play-off series on the road.

The Warriors are the champs, they've knocked the Rockets out of the playoffs twice in the last three seasons.

Whether or not they can is another matter, but Houston represent the greatest challenger this iteration of the Warriors juggernaut has come across. Wouldn't that be a crushing blow for the Rockets, knowing that the Warriors withheld their best group and still took away home-court advantage? He failed to score, shot 0 of 6 from the field and registered a minus-14 for the game in 17 minutes of action.

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