Game 1: Rockets Destroy Spurs 126-99

That was an ass-whoopin’.

I am old enough that I have seen teams take beat downs like that and go on to win series convincingly. Off the top of my head: 2016 OKC v Spurs, 97 Bulls (NBA Finals!), 2016 Cavs.

That said, I am fairly certain that few teams get their asses handed to them in game one and recover.

I called Spurs in six, knowing full well that Houston would have one game where they shot the cotton off the net. Tonight, they set a team records for threes made, and attempted (and set an NBA record for attempts).

SA helped things along early in the second by making mistakes and looking completely unprepared for an NBA Playoff game.

Yes, Ryan Anderson was raining threes, but he was also stonewalling LaMarcus Aldridge while working him off the dribble.

Patrick Beverley walking into an uncontested three as Danny Green haphazardly ‘contested’.

Loose balls were won by Houston and they made San Antonio pay with — yes you guessed it — more threes.

I expected more. You did too, I bet.

I wrote that LaMarcus should have a better series now that he is not getting beat up by two quality post players in Gasol and Randolph. But he made Ryan Anderson look like Ben Wallace inside the paint.

Everyone is going to endlessly discuss Aldridge so we’ll stop here. There is nothing more frustrating that a big man that doesn’t finish consistently at the rim and so suffice it to say that this blog is frustrated with missed layups.

Adding to the frustration was Danny Green. He added turnovers and lax defense to his early 0-7 shooting. Oh, and missed free throws to boot. He had the opposite of three-and-d tonight. There were a couple of combinations where he allowed a guy to get to a spot, and then followed it up with a wide open miss. Even more fun was when he was throwing the ball to Ariza at mid court allowing a lay up, or trying his Manu cross-court pass that was stolen. He did mix in some variety on the misses, though, adding in an air ball.

There is not much to be excited about offensively. When you miss layups, you allow fast break points. Against a team that is getting free buckets on makes that is doubly — probably triply — true.

After LMA was missing bunnies, more than a few twitter coaches were calling for Dedmon — who would somehow magically become 94 David Robinson? I didn’t see how he would help much outside of a dunk or adding a little rim protection. That’s little solace when the Rockets were launching threes and forcing switches. Dedmon is not going to shut down Harden nor was he going to change the face of the game significantly.

He did bring energy — so much that he got Nene ejected and Beverly a tech. By then it was far too late.

A post shared by NBA on ESPN (@nbaonespn) on

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Pop said in the post game that Dedmon playing more minutes wasn’t going to fix what ails the Spurs right now and I agree. Other things that wouldn’t (and didn’t) help include playing Simmons, Dejounte, Bertans, or any other combination thereof more this game. The team is the team, and (unfortunately) that means it will win or lose depending on LaMarcus Aldridge, Danny Green, Tony Parker, and Pau Gasol.

This Section Has Rationalization

The playoffs are about overreaction. I know this. You know this. It is hard to feel anything else but disappointment and pessimism after watching the Rockets run the gym. The Spurs became the fourth team to lose by 25 or more at home in game 1. No team has won the series after such a loss.

The good news is that this was only one game. It does not carry over. The score is 0-0 on Wednesday. The Spurs are at home. If anyone on the squad was not ready to play, or unprepared for the kind of series this was going to be, they know exactly how good the Rockets can be. The cliché is that a series does not start until one team loses a home game — so, we have a series y’all. The Rockets are now thinking and saying ’we came to do what we wanted to do. Get a split. Now we got to go home and take care of business’. They also are saying the requisite respectful things ‘we know we have to respect that team. We probably are not going to shoot like that next time’.

The Spurs got punched in the mouth in the first quarter, getting outscored 34 – 23. They got a little life toward the end, and made a run. In the second, it all fell apart. Look at this Box from the second.

Spurs had five turnovers in the period and missed seven three pointers on the way to being outscored 35-16. While I am perfectly ready to give lots of credit to the Rockets defense — Patrick Beverly, (even Lou Williams blocked a Parker shot!), Clint Capela, Trevor Ariza were particularly active all night. But Ryan Anderson? Is he the new Draymond Green? He shut down LaMarcus Aldridge, ripped him once, and didn’t let him look comfortable all quarter. On the other end, he put LMA in the torture chamber once or twice. This is not a reality I am prepared for nor one I think we will see again.

The Rockets played the best game — and the best half — that we have seen from them in a long time. The Spurs played one of the worst. I am glad it is a best-of-seven and not best-of-one.

If Pop and company do anything well, it is remaining calm where others panic. They did not blow things up after 2002, and yet another loss in the playoffs with Tim + spare parts losing to the Lakers with a high seed (speaking of one-man shows). That won them a title in 2003. They didn’t panic after failing to go back-to-back in 2004. That won them a title in 2005. They did not blow it up after the Mavericks won game 7 in San Antonio in 2006 (after putting the Spurs down 3-1!). They won the title in 2007.

They still didn’t panic after the era looked over in 2008-2011, culminating in that embarrassing first round loss to the Grizzlies. If any team looked done, it was that team. Instead they retooled around the same core, the same principles (with some tweaks) to go to the finals in two straight years. Of course, they bounced back from one of the most devastating Finals losses in history.

So I am confident Kawhi, Manu, and Tony can shake off this game. Same with Patty, Danny Green and probably Pau. I do not know about Aldridge though, but if any group can help him it is this one. Again, he does not need to carry the offensive load, he just needs to get buckets and play like he is the 6’11” athletic big man with shooting touch.

Danny Green had one of the worst games he has ever played on both ends. The Rockets did not scheme him to be the playmaker, but he made them look like geniuses leaving him wide-ass open for threes that did not go anywhere. Pop hinted that some of his shots were way to early in the shot clock. Against the Grizzlies, there is more room for error — that is to say, you can miss an early bucket because they are not a huge threat to run on the break. Against the Rockets, there is a need to be more disciplined. The Spurs cannot run at the same pace with Houston for 48 minutes — in spurts maybe. Watching him miss open shots is frustrating because there is no recourse. Those are the shots we want him to take. If he does not make them? Then SA is well and truly done. Still, the squad can live with an 0-4 performance from DG. They cannot live with three turnovers in the second quarter, however.

All those things will be better in the next game. Even Kawhi, who went 0-3 in the second period, did not play well. He still managed 26 points because he is ridiculous and his bad games are career highs for regular guys.

There is concern because the Spurs have away a feel-out game along with home court but I am not giving up on this team just yet.