The first two games of the western conference finals fit the playoff pattern: each team has a blowout win, and conversely a loss that makes them look very vulnerable. If this pattern holds, the rest of the games to be played will be closer, including at least one decided in the last minute, or the last few seconds.
With their commanding win in game 2, the Rockets have confidence in their game. The Warriors, who frightened fans with their regular season tendency--different from the past two seasons--to fall apart and get beat big, have rattled their fans for sure with this game, and perhaps impressed themselves with what they need to do every game.
What the second game showed was what I proposed as the Rockets path to victory: the Rockets made adjustments, then played at the top of their game, while the Warriors played at the bottom of theirs. Two games with a day between on the road is as hard as the playoff schedule gets. It seems unlikely that Steph and Klay will miss so many shots at home. It seems unlikely that the Warriors play as badly again--but given the regular season, there's some doubt.
Steph Curry will need to have a big game to silence the questions about his recovery from his latest injury. He denies that he's not as quick physically, but he did that two years ago also, when he was in fact not fully recovered.
Now the Warriors must win their two home games in order to stay in control of this series. They then have the luxury of not needing game 5, and taking the series with game 6 at home. Anything short of taking the next two games is dangerous. That has to be their mindset.
In the eastern conference finals, game 3 is an obvious must-win for Cleveland at home. Having lost the first two games on the road, they must win all their home games plus one in Boston. They don't seem to have the firepower or the defense to make up this deficit, as they made up a 3-1 deficit two years ago in the finals to win the championship. Not if the Celtics stay as healthy as they are now.
The East plays game 3 Saturday, the West on Sunday.
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