Rockets 100, Warriors 104 - No Fun Allowed

By Forrest Walker on December 18, 2017

The Houston Rockets met the Golden State Warriors in a much-anticipated rematch of last year's Western Conference finals and rewarded the NBA fans of the world with one of the least watchable games played this season. The Rockets didn't quite have what it took, and the Warriors couldn't quite put the Rockets away, and the world was forced to watch some incredibly bad officiating. Chris Paul got ejected with four seconds left, James Harden complained about referees after the game, and overall it was a very promising start if you absolutely hate fun in all its forms.

Why was Clint Capela so bad? When will Austin Rivers come back, and do they need him? Is Iman Shumpert playable? Why did head coach Mike D'antoni leave Nene in for that last possession? Why are the Rockets hesitating on threes? Will the starters on either team have anything left as the series progresses? All of these questions and more have been wiped out by discussion of landing space and referees, which is probably the least fun possible thing that can happen in a big-ticket playoff game.

Officiating is a force of nature, and while I respect that the Rockets want to do everything they can to sway it, in the end you can only accept that it will go the way it will go. In this case, it took the form of the Golden State Warriors (Klay Thompson in particular) being allowed to get underneath the shooter (which may as well be a nickname for James Harden, as this is who the term will refer to in most cases today) and cause a hazardous situation. The NBA calls fouls in this situation to avoid players landing on one another's feet and legs and potentially suffering injuries. Except today.

It was distraction and contentious and the Rockets have a valid point and also it's made everything surrounding this game awful and grueling. It wouldn't have mattered  if Chris Paul and Mike D'antoni hadn't picked up silly technical fouls and if James Harden and Chris Paul hadn't both missed a shocking number of free throws. This was an eminently winnable game, even with the irregularities, and to walk away empty-handed is a real blow to the Rockets.

The good news, however, is that there's a lot they can improve. Harden shot poorly (9-28), Capela looked like a zombie (only took 2 shots somehow) and the team got outrebounded by a Warriors squad playing maybe 20 minutes of actual centers. There's a lot of fat to trim, and a lot of adjustments to be made. To count this series as over one game in would be premature, even if this game brings with it painful "what ifs."

The only thing to do is move on to game two, which will somehow be even more miserable.

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