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Game one belongs to the Rockets

Aug 18, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon (10) shoots against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Darius Bazley (7) in the second half in game one of the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at The Field House. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets played exceptionally well against the Oklahoma City Thunder in game one. James Harden and the Rockets were to able come on top 123-108 Tuesday night. As a team, the Rockets shot 20 threes, had 42 points from the bench, and caused 12 turnovers. Eric Gordon and Jeff Green played exceptionally well from the field. Those two combined for 43 points alongside Harden’s 37 points.

The Jeff Green Effect

            When Green entered in the game, he played mostly point guard because of the way OKC guarded Harden.

“He opens up so many other possibilities, getting guys shots or wide-open shots for himself or giving James [Harden] a little bit of a break to get open. All he has to do is pick and pop back,” as D ‘Antoni emphasized to the media Tuesday night after the game. “If they don’t switch, he to the rim and dunks. If they do, then James has the ball in a great spot”

Green was able to find open opportunities at the top of the three-point line. Even though Green shot 37.5% from three, he was highly effective inside the paint because of the pick and roll. Also, the Thunder had a hard time stopping him from get shots inside the paint. He also had a team high 28 plus in +/- category. Green finished with 22 points against the Thunder Tuesday night. After the game, Harden said he was not impressed by Green because he seen him do this his whole entire career.

            “I’m not impressed. I’ve seen been knowing Jeff since I was a rookie, so I know what he’s capable of. He’s confident. Jeff [Green] is being a playmaker,” as Harden told the press after the victory Tuesday night against the Thunder. “Jeff has been doing things that he’s been doing his entire career.”

The unstoppable Eric Gordon

            Gordon was an unstoppable force down court on transition for the Rockets. He was effective all over the court Tuesday night against the Thunder. Gordon had tough time from three but was able to get most of points inside the paint. He never settled behind the three-point line as Gordon was able to force the issue. Gordon finished with 21 points and shot 41.1 % on the night. Chris Paul gave Gordon high praise after the game.

            “It’s tough — they play like that for a reason. We keep talking about it, but Eric Gordon is like a wildcard for them because of his ability to shoot and drive,” as Paul said after a tough loss against the Rockets. “We have to figure out what we are going to take away. To let the other guys get going is tough.”

James Harden’s dominance

            Harden had a great a night as he was able to lead the Rockets to a win with consecutive big shots. He also had 11 assists that helped contribute to the Rockets 20 three-point shots. Harden has been unstoppable for the Rockets. He shot 46.1% from three and was 55% from the field as well. Harden took on the load for game one without Russell Westbrook. Hopefully, he stays consistent for the Rockets against the Thunder.

Defensive effort

            The Rockets played exceptionally well on defense as well. As a team, they did not allow easy opportunities for the Thunder. The Thunder shot 37% from three off 35 attempts. Paul and the Thunder were confused on the zone defense the Rockets played. This allowed the Rockets to close out on the Thunders’ shooters much quicker. Paul struggled in the first half even though his stats show something different. The Rockets were able force tough looks for Paul the whole entire game. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander struggled from the field by shooting 25% with nine points.

            “That’s how we have to play since we are undersized,” D’Antoni said after game about the Rockets’ defense.

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