The Golden State Warriors escaped a hard-fought battle in Sunday afternoon's Game 1 victory over the Houston Rockets 104-100.
Warrior guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were questionable heading into the opening game of their Western Conference Semifinal matchup with the Rockets; both sustained right ankle injuries during the previous round against the LA Clippers. Curry was eventually cleared before tip-off, while Klay remained a question mark. Both ended up gritting through the pain and left everything on the floor.
Kevin Durant, who averaged 47.5 points over the past two playoff games, brought another MVP performance into Oracle Arena, Sunday afternoon. After having dropped 50 points in the Warriors' clincher against the Clippers on Friday, KD utilized his size, strength, and athleticism to shoot over and drive around the Houston defense. Durant led the Dubs in scoring, with 35 points on 11-25 from the floor, 12-15 from the free-throw line, adding five rebounds and three assists.
Meanwhile, back to Curry and Thompson, health clearly played a factor in limiting the two offensively in this contest. The Dubs' back court managed to score a paltry 31 points combined. Steph poured in 18 on a pretty efficient 5-12 field goals, including three three-pointers, seven rebounds, and four assists. His fellow Splash Brother, Klay, chipped in with 13 points, four rebounds, three assists, and a pair of steals. Even though they were nursing injuries, the two All-Star guards gutted-out well over 30 minutes apiece. Curry and Thompson saw 37 minutes and 41 minutes of action, respectively.
Andre Iguodala got the start, inplace of center Andrew Bogut, as coach Steve Kerr opted to go with a smaller, more versatile lineup to matchup with the athleticism of Houston. For his part, Iguodala helped pick up some of the scoring slack created by the struggles of the Splash Brothers, contributing 14 points on an almost perfect 6-7 field goals. Draymond Green has stepped his offensive game up of late, taking on more of a scoring role than most of the regular season. On Sunday, he practically mirrored Iguodala's success with 14 points on 7-9 shooting. Green also pulled down nine boards and dished out nine dimes.
Tempers flared over the officiating, especially late and on the part of the visiting-Houston Rockets. Guard Chris Paul was ejected with 4.4 seconds left in regulation, after receiving his second technical foul of the game. The game was just as fiercely competitive as fans and experts had hoped, possibly even more. Golden State hosts Game 2 in Oakland on Tuesday.