Some of his points also came during garbage time at the end of the game, and he shot less than he did in the last 2 games of the Conference Semifinals.
The Warriors, who are the second seed in the West, opened a playoff series away from Oracle Arena for the first time since 2014 when they lost to the Los Angeles Clippers 4-3 in the opening round. The Celtics stomped the Cavaliers 108-83 in Game 1 in what was nothing short of a shocking result.
The scouting report on the Warriors is in some ways pretty simple.
But, none of the three games will matter on Monday as the battle of the best two backcourts in the league could decide who advances to the NBA Finals. The 32-year-old runs the floor as an exceptional facilitator, but the subpar shooting deals a blow to the offense when defenders can play 5-on-4 when contesting shots. They have a bench filled with defensive stalwarts who can cover multiple positions.
Will we have our Western Conference Finals matchup set after Tuesday's games? Simply put, the Warriors are a juggernaut. A ticket to the 2017 conference final in Oakland was $688 on the secondary market, down from the previous high of $792 in 2016.
Rockets: Paul added 23 points and 11 rebounds. 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. Unless something changes the momentum of this series, the Celtics should go ahead 2-0.
Green is the defensive anchor for the Warriors and has been back to his influential best during the playoffs after his level dropped slightly in the regular season.
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These are both tough series to call, but such is the playoffs. Houston, playing the first two games of the series at home, jumped out to an early lead with MVP candidate James Harden scoring the teams' first nine points.
No, if you need to pinpoint the root of the Warriors' underachieving 58-win regular season, you should look toward this team's general sense of apathy and disinterest. Durant, who played just more than 40 minutes, was asked if he'd prefer to play the entire 48 minutes. The offseason signings of P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute galvanized that declaration.
"Houston, they never stop", Durant said. This year, Durant and the Warriors have a test of their own to support that theory. Both teams are among the league's best first-quarter teams. Paul scored 41 points in the Rockets' series-clinching victory over the Jazz, shooting 13-of-22 shooting from the field-including 8-of-10 from three-point land-and added 10 assists (zero turnovers) with seven rebounds and a steal. Paul's historically excellent individual playoff stats have been undermined by his lack of team success in the postseason.
Against the Raptors, Lebron got a big boost from Kevin Love and Tristian Thompson, that's right I said it. Durant converted consecutive baskets midway through the second quarter to push Golden State to a lead. And with Golden State featuring its usual brand of ferocious half-court defense, the Rockets didn't have almost enough firepower.
As series entertainment goes, the Warriors/Rockets series has been a billing that has been on the docket for quite some time. If they get a signature 30 to 40-point effort from James, they could pull this out. That means that punters do have a chance to make a bet with the Warriors for some underdog odds at 2.02. Despite already losing more games during this playoff run, the Warriors are still the Goliath that the rest of the league is looking to conquer.
D'Antoni believes the 6-foot-10 Capela's ability to switch on guards as well as defend in the paint will be a key in this series.
In this January 20, 2018, file photo, Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul (3) shoots in front of Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, in Houston.