Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets - Game One
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets and James Harden are seen as the only true challenger to the Golden State Warriors dynasty. They hung tough for a while, but in the end, the Warriors were too much.

James Harden went off for 24 points in the first half as his Rockets kept pace with the Warriors. He was 8-for-12 from the floor and was knocking down his patented step back three.

Kevin Durant paced the Warriors with 17 points as the first half ended at 56-56. The second half is usually when Golden State runs away from their opponents, but if Harden has anything to say about it, this series will be a fight to the finish.

Golden State does what they do best and grabs a double-digit lead in the third quarter. Durant led the way with 15 points in the quarter. He was slicing and dicing through the Rockets defense and looking like he was in “NBA Finals Durant” form.

But these seven games are going to be a series of counterpunches between two of the best offensive teams in recent memory. Games are going to come down to the final minutes, final seconds, and final shots.

And in the second half, the Golden State Warriors landed more punches. They took control in that third quarter—like they always seem to do—and they never let the Rockets wrest control. They withstood the hot start and kept grinding away.

It’s going to be tough for the Rockets to pull off four wins in the next six games when they aren’t knocking down threes. Harden was 5-for-9 from deep, but the rest of the team was a paltry 8-for-28. That’s less than 30 percent.

If the Rockets can’t make the right adjustments ahead of Game 2, we could be looking at Golden State’s second straight title and third in four years. And to be clear, the Eastern Conference Finals should be exciting—especially after the Boston Celtics gave LeBron James and the Cavaliers a gut punch in Game 1—but neither team would have a chance against Golden State.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.