HOUSTON — Even though the Golden State Warriors stole home-court advantage in the Western Conference finals on Monday night, the defending NBA champions dispute the notion that the pressure now is off them.
“No, and we don’t want to think like that,” Klay Thompson said after practice Tuesday at Toyota Center. “That’s just a trap. There is still a lot of pressure on us.”
The top-seeded Houston Rockets assembled a roster to combat the star power of Golden State, and losing Game 1 by 13 points would seem to be a complete letdown. But Warriors forward Kevin Durant, who scored 37 points in the opener, said nothing about the series has changed.
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“I don’t feel like it’s a huge momentum shift [for us],” Durant said. “Houston can win anywhere. They’ve proved it before. We know it’s a four-[win] series. The first game doesn’t guarantee you winning the series. We just want to keep playing.”
Stephen Curry said he has already forgotten about Game 1.
“We’ve turned the page,” he said. “We came in only thinking about Game 1 because that was the only game in front of us. Sounds cliché, but the true championship-mentality-caliber teams, they think like that.
“You have 48 minutes to take care of business, understand what we did well, understand what we can do better. Game 2 is the same mentality. It’s 48 minutes in front of us. … The score is 0-0, so we have to do what we did in Game 1, even better, be sharper.”
Houston’s offense is predicated heavily on isolation sets initiated by either James Harden or Chris Paul. Rockets guard Eric Gordon told The Undefeated that he’d like to have the ball in his hands more, adding, “We can’t isolate as much against a good defensive team. I don’t care who you are. We have some of the best isolation players out there, but against a team like that, it’s going to be tough.”
Coach Mike D’Antoni noted the Rockets have been playing that way all season, and they won’t change now.
“It’s tiring for them, and it wears them down for offense,” Thompson said about Houston’s approach. “A guy’s got to dribble so much and defend, it’s not easy. So we try to do that to them. Brought our best, and the ball zipped around the perimeter. Everyone was getting a touch. It’s just easier to conserve energy that way than trying to do it all by ourselves. We’ve got to be efficient.”
Added Draymond Green to ESPN: “It’s only one game. We’ve got more work to do.”
Game 2 is Wednesday night in Houston. Should the Warriors win again, it would be hard to envision this series returning here.
“We set a great tone for ourselves,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Now we have an opportunity to really take advantage and win tomorrow night and get a big lead. So that’s the plan.”