The Houston Rockets were outscored by the Golden State Warriors by nine points in the first quarter of both Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals. James Harden and company eventually made up most of that deficit in both contests, but nevertheless failed to completely overcome their poor starts en route to a pair of hard-fought losses at Oracle Arena.
What's the reason for Houston's early holes? As Mike D'Antoni tells it, an inability to take care of the ball.
“Turnovers,” he said, per ClutchPoints' Shane Young. “They have a very good defense. Maybe it just took us awhile to adjust.”
The Rockets committed four of their 14 total turnovers in opening stanza of Game 1, a relatively high but not imminently debilitating number. In Game 2, though, their carelessness really reared its ugly head early. Houston had a whopping nine turnovers in the first quarter on Tuesday night, one more than it committed over the ensuing 36 minutes of game time.
Obviously, it's imperative the Rockets mitigate their penchant for early turnovers going forward. Just as important, though, is keeping Golden State off the offensive glass, a difficult task given that their switch-heavy defense often leads to size mismatches in the paint. The Warriors boast a 34.4 offensive rebounding percentage in this series so far, just a hair better than the Philadelphia 76ers' playoff-leading mark.
There are only so many aspects of the game the Rockets can try to control. But turnovers and defensive rebounding are among the few, and if Houston wants to make this series competitive, it must be far better in both areas beginning in the first quarter of Game 3.