Did you watch “The Game” last night? I am not talking about the Washington Capitals vs Vegas Golden Knights Stanley Cup hockey game. Nor I am referring to an MLB game, by the way, my Yankees lost. I am referring to the Western Regional finals NBA game between the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets. The game was surely a tale of two completely different halves. For a while, it seemed like Houston was going to walk away with the game and the title. Marc Stein in his morning-after piece in the New York Times aptly described the Warrior’s troubles during the series with Houston:
The Golden State Warriors were stretched, harried and at times even bullied by the Houston Rockets. Through seven games over a span of 15 days, they often looked well shy of their supposed invincibility.
I saw all of the games played in the series. Though I believed that the Warriors were the better team, Houston was extremely competitive. One or another of its players always rose up to the occasion when they were most needed.
The Warriors trailed by as much as 15 points during the first time. It would be an understatement to say that they were getting their butts kicked. Monte Poole, in an article on NBCsports.com, characterized the game as follows:
A grotesque first half gave way to a gorgeous third quarter, and the transformation delivered the Warriors to their fourth consecutive NBA Finals.
Kevin Durant poured in 34 points. His teammate, Stephen Curry, added another 27 points. Klay Thompson added to the scoring barrage by making 19 points. Clearly, the Warriors’ second-half explosion was a team effort. As the half dragged on to an inevitable conclusion for Houston fans, the Toyota Arena fell silent like a Sunday church service. Houston’s players lost their swagger, their eye-popping, chest-thumping arrogance. During the second half, the Rockets went on to shoot an embarrassing 1-21 from beyond the three-point line. The Warriors were making their three-point attempts. It seemed like Houston players want to out-three-point the Warriors. Was it a macho thing? The final score was Warriors 101 and Rockets 92.
The pundits, basketball junkies, and ex-players turned TV broadcasters-commentators are debating Houston’s second-half game strategy. Clearly, the three-pointers were not falling for the Rockets. In my opinion, the Rockets’ players were chucking up bricks that had no chance of going in the basket. Mike D’Antoni, the Rockets’ coach, is on the hot seat. About a week ago, he defended the Rockets style of play. He has been criticised for allowing his players to go one on one too often. Hence, the Rocket’s do not play as a team but more like players in a pick-up game in some city park. Regardless, it was D’Antoni’s responsibility to call his players over, tell them to play like a team and work the ball down towards the hoop. The players needed leadership that they did not receive at a critical time in the game from their coach. Mike D’Antoni let his players play (badly) their style of basketball. Did he forget the reason why he is being paid “the big bucks?”
The offseason has arrived for the Rockets. Management should immediately begin working on a way to field a group of talented players who want to an knows how to play as a team. Nothing else needs to be said about last night’s NBA game. Case closed and it is time to discuss the upcoming finals.