It was one game. It was just one game. I keep trying to ease my mind by reiterating that fact to myself, but even the eternal optimist in me thinks we just watched a fatal nail get driven into the dream of seeing the Warriors truly challenged in the playoffs. After all, that one game came in front of the Houston crowd, with the Rockets having everything to prove, featured an extremely efficient 40+ point effort from their offensive lynchpin, saw a mediocre performance from the two-time MVP on the opposite side of the floor, and still resulted in a double digit loss in which they only felt close to attaining a moral victory. So, how could I not feel like we are far more than 25% of the way to the harsh realization that the most compelling part of this series was in theory when we were gassing up the Rockets as competition before they even proved they had the capability to reach such historic heights when it mattered?
The following response from Mike D'Antoni is a joke, but it's effectiveness as such just might hinge on its hint of truth more than its use of hyperbole...
With Klay Thompson being left more alone than he is when chugging chocolate milk in the back corner of the party to effortlessly knock down the same type of wide open threes that Luc Mbah A Moute was presumably launching towards the basket with his eyes closed, the Rockets may very well need James Harden to put up a double-nickel on the stat sheet to keep things close. As good as he and Chris Paul have been this postseason, they've rarely both been great on the same night, and if that simply has to be a game-by-game occurrence if they even want to hope to keep pace with a more talented group that plays a better brand of basketball.
As there was last night, there will be times when it appears as though the Rockets and the Warriors are on the same level. Unfortunately, mixed in between those times the latter is going to sprinkle in the occasional and infamous back-breaking barrage of team offense that, metaphorically speaking, bulldozes the opposition's door and rips their heart out of their chest before spitting in their spaghetti sauce and kicking their cat into the yard upon exiting with an insurmountable lead. They've done it too many times for it not to be a considered inevitable at this point.
It's not just about having four superstars on their roster, although that certainly helps. It's about having four selfless superstars that are just as likely to make things easier for one another as they are to make the insanely difficult look stupid simple. Their reliance on 3-point shooting isn't anywhere near as much of an initiative as it is for the Rockets, and that's because their ball movement makes it so that shooting from range is only one advantageous byproduct of their approach to the game. Consider this, if Draymond Green kicked one dick last night he would have hit more testicles than buckets and he still arguably had as big of an impact on the game as any Rocket who's shaved in the last six months. I suppose you could bank on Kevin Durant missing a few more shots going forward, but that seems to be as terrible an idea as placing a future's bet on Steph Curry to continue to making only one three per game.
What I'm trying to say is that we didn't even see the Warriors' best, and they still made the Rockets look noticeably worse. The Hampton's 5 might be the lamest nickname in sports history, but being reminded of the type of talent and chemistry they have made it all-too-easy to see them sending Houston on a luxury Long Island vacation in 4, or maybe one more.