The Western Conference semi-finals between the Golden State Warriors—the defending champions—and the Houston Rockets, was thought to be the most exciting of the four second round playoff series of both the Eastern and Western Conferences, but the Warriors’ two home wins, Games 1 and 2, may refute this contention at this time.
After a six game first round series against the L.A. Clippers where the Warriors struggled, losing two games at home, Golden State advanced to face the Rockets, James Harden, Chris Paul, taking the first two of their series. A 104-100 four point win on Sunday, and a six point 115-109 six point win Tuesday night.
Golden State was able to win both games with balanced scoring from their starters, each in double figures, and 35 and 29 point games from 7-footer Kevin Durant. His 29 on Tuesday was his lowest point total in his last six games after knocking down 38, 33, 45 and 50 in the last four games against the Clippers.
“Kevin’s run, these last couple of weeks has just been off the charts,” said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr after Sunday’s win. “He’s one of the most skilled basketball players to ever play the game.”
Durant explains his run as just now being able to put everything together, “On both sides of the ball.” His lowest post season point totals have been 23 and 21 in Games 1 and 2 versus the Clippers.
Golden State-Houston is a re-match of last season’s Western Conference finals, contributing to a sizable portion of all the hype. Golden State defeated the Rockets in seven games after being down 3-2, the last two games played without Paul who injured a hamstring in Game 5.
The series resumes in Houston on Saturday and Monday, two games, and back to Golden State on Wednesday if necessary.
The Denver Nuggets versus the Portland Trail Blazers is the other series, slightly overshadowed by Golden State-Houston and all of the backstories surrounding that. But it is formidable none-the-less. The 2-Western Conference-seed against Portland the 3.
Denver advances after a seven game first round series with the San Antonio Spurs. Portland faces Denver after a five game series with the Oklahoma Thunder.
Denver faced the Blazers four times during the regular season, winning 3-out of the-4 games with Portland winning the last one of the series at home in early April.
The Nuggets resumed from where they left off, defeating the rested Blazers 121-113 on Monday despite 39 points, 6 assists from Damian Lilliard, Enes Kanter’s 26 points, 7 rebounds and 16 and 17 point contributions by CJ McCollum and Rodney Hood.
The Nuggets were riding the wave of their 90-86 Game 7 win over the Spurs on Saturday, two nights before, an emotional high for the team, part of their coach’s concern entering into the next round.
“Obviously you’re worried about guarding them,” said Michael Malone, “but how would we react from that emotional hangover? I thought our guys did a pretty good job.”