The Golden State Warriors controlled the action in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, forcing the Rockets into a number of uncomfortable late-shot clock situations. After the loss, much of the conversation about Houston focused on their isolation heavy offense and whether they needed a different approach in Game 2.
The answer was both yes and no. As we saw in Game 2, the Rockets, as Mike D’Antoni said after Game 1, are who they are and will run a lot of isolation, but they did it much earlier in the clock and that allowed the ball to move more when the Warriors collapsed onto the primary ball-handler, whether James Harden or Chris Paul. The result was an offensive explosion and a 127-105 win to even the series going to Oakland.
There were some tweaks, as Eric Gordon got his wish and had more opportunities on the ball, which he rewarded the Rockets for by scoring 27 points. The ball movement was also different, but it was initiated the same way as in Game 1, just much earlier in the clock thanks to more decisive action from Houston’s top stars. That performance has shifted the questions off of Houston and onto the Warriors as to how they will adjust to do better against that penetration and kick offense that sent them scrambling in Game 2.
Steph Curry was the focal point of the Houston attack in Game 2, as he was targeted on an astounding 23 possessions as James Harden constantly initiated a switch to get the smaller Curry on him. Harden took advantage of that and the Warriors were regularly sent into scramble mode by having to rotate down to give help to Curry when he was on an island with the presumed MVP.