HOUSTON – The Houston Rockets' latest series with the Golden State Warriors began the same way as each of the other three recent series between the two teams, with a Houston loss.
The Rockets fell 104-100 in a game that brought lots of controversy based on officiating.
Houston missed 34 of their 47 three-point shots, but they believe they were fouled on several of those missed attempts without whistles.
"I just want a fair chance, man. Call the game how it's supposed to be called, and that's it. And I'll live with the results," Rockets guard James Harden said after Game 1. "But especially, we all know what happened a few years back with Kawhi. That can change the entire series. Just call the game the way it's supposed to be called, and we'll live with the results. It's plain and simple."
There are plenty of other concerns heading into Game 2, and without corrections and adjustments in those areas, like rebounding, the Rockets are unlikely to even the series before it heads backs to Houston for Saturday's Game 3.
Here are the Keys to Game 2:
The Warriors' rebounding advantage was pronounced throughout the game and they finished with a wide 38-26 edge. Most importantly, Houston allowed the Warriors to grab eight offensive rebounds while the Rockets snared just three offensive boards. It sounds even worse when you consider the Warriors corralled eight of their 37 misses, while Houston only grabbed three of 43 missed shots. Clint Capela cannot have another invisible game like he did in Game 1. He had just two points and six rebounds in a forgettable performance.
Stay on the attack
The Rockets took only 74 shots in Game 1, tied for their fifth fewest in a game this season, including the playoffs. They only attempted 27 shots inside the three-point line - tied for the fewest in any game this season. They made 17 of 27 of those shots (63 percent), including a six-for-six performance from Eric Gordon. In each of their last two contests against Golden State, they've had success taking the ball to the rim - they need to do more of that in game two. When they faced Golden State last month, they made 26 of 37 two-point field goals. That 70.3 percent success rate was one of just seven games all season at 70 percent or better. They still need to shoot a high volume of three-pointers, but must be more aggressive and decisive on taking the ball to the basket.
Maintain their composure
It's not easy to do, especially in Game 1, when the persistent feeling is the officials are repeatedly missing calls - calls that are fouls and calls that have been made a lot more accurately throughout the first 87 games of the season. Even still, the technicals on Chris Paul and Mike D’Antoni at the end of the third quarter came after a made three-point shot by Paul. The Warriors made both free throws. The second technical and subsequent ejection came following a turnover with 4.4 seconds left and the Rockets down just three points. That's a one-possession game, and just seconds earlier - down three points - the Rockets had forced a turnover, which allowed them the opportunity to tie the game on a Harden three-pointer - which he missed. Clearly, the officiating was in their heads during Game 1 and remained that way throughout the entire organization since then. That has to change for Game 2, even with Scott Foster as the crew chief. The Rockets were very vocal publicly about their disdain for Foster and the manner in which he deals with players following a February game against the Lakers that Harden fouled out of. Harden was fined $25,000 after that game for publicly criticizing an official.