The Houston Rockets were slammed for too much isolation in Game 1. And while Game 2 offered vastly different results, the game plan itself was not all too different.
Houston repeatedly targeted Stephen Curry with ball screens to force isolations with James Harden and Chris Paul. As they should. Both were among the best isolation players in the NBA this season, and Harden and Paul isolations were among the most efficient play types in all of basketball. The biggest difference from last game? The Rockets moved with purpose, if not more pace.
Though Houston didn’t throw appreciably more passes, it made the ones it did throw all the more effective by getting downhill quicker and forcing the Golden State Warriors’ defense to collapse and rotate.
And they did that by disconnecting the Warriors’ own motion attack on defense, switching everything and forcing bad shots and turnovers to get out in transition.
As the series shifts to the West Coast, the Golden State Warriors will have to figure out the best place to put Curry. P.J. Tucker could be an option, getting him out of the corner, where he can be deadly, and forcing him to work on the short roll.
The same goes for Trevor Ariza, who had a possibly unsustainably good game to throw the Warriors’ defense off their path.
By Game 3, the Warriors should be prepared for Houston’s increased emphasis on pushing out of the defensive end and, perhaps, a way to get Curry going in this series.