While they will tell the media they have all the confidence in the world and fully believe they will win the Western Conference Finals, Monday night’s 119-106 Game 1 loss to the Golden State Warriors has to be very discouraging to the Houston Rockets.
The top-seeded Rockets put so much effort into winning 65 games in the regular season to get home-court advantage, and the defending champions immediately made that not matter with the convincing double-digit victory. This was the game the Rockets were supposed to win. Home court, all the fans loud and pumped up for the game, and the opportunity to make a statement to the Warriors that this series is going to be a pain in the ass.
The Rockets – a team specifically engineered to out-Warrior the Warriors – pushed like hell to win 65 games and get that top seed to secure home court advantage … and like that it’s gone.
— Erik Malinowski (@erikmal) May 15, 2018
Instead, some will now argue that the series is basically over. Charles Barkley already feels that way and is now picking “the Warriors in 3.”
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 15, 2018
Ernie Johnson tells Klay Thompson how Charles Barkley picked the Warriors to win in 3 lmao https://t.co/xSfA7QLrXn
— Matt Clapp (@Matt2Clapp) May 15, 2018
And, maybe it is over. The Warriors are clearly the huge favorites now (and have the mental edge at this point, of course), and the Rockets would have to beat them in four of six games, with at least one of those wins needing to be at Oracle Arena. That’s going to be extremely difficult, and you won’t find anyone but the Rockets themselves or homer Rockets fans picking Houston to win at this point.
But this is an excellent Rockets team with the firepower capable of matching the Warriors.
The 2018 Rockets have won more games, compiled a better point differential & posted a higher offensive efficiency rating than any Warriors playoff opponent during the Steve Kerr Era (2015-2018). pic.twitter.com/VipkSBPOYs
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) May 9, 2018
Whatever the case, to have any chance (barring an injury to a Warriors star), Game 2 is a must-win for the Rockets. Losing both home games to start the series, and being forced to beat this Warriors team four times in a best-of-five, with at least two wins necessary in Golden State… well, then the series would *really* feel over.
The crucial Game 2 tips off at 9 PM ET (TNT) on Wednesday at the Toyota Center.