The Houston Rockets surrendered home-court advantage to the Golden State Warriors on Monday with a 119-106 loss in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. Stopping the Warriors was a huge issue for the Rockets - it's tough to beat anyone when you surrender 122.7 points per 100 possessions - but they also performed well below their usual standard at the other end, posting just a 102.7 offensive rating (compared to 112.2 in the regular season and 111.1 in the playoffs coming into Monday's game).
Hunting one-on-one mismatches has been the backbone of Houston's historic offense all season, but playing iso-ball looks like a less bankable tactic against the Warriors' army of long, switchy defenders. James Harden and Chris Paul still got theirs - combining for 64 points on 22-of-41 shooting - but Golden State had little trouble taking the Rockets' role players out of the game. Houston's supporting cast contributed just 42 points on 17-of-44 shooting, including 6-of-21 from 3-point range.
After the Game 1 loss, Rockets center Clint Capela suggested that a different, more movement-oriented approach may be in order.
"We're just out here waiting on (Harden and Paul) to make the decisions," Capela told Sam Amick of USA Today. "This is what they do. This is what they've been doing all season long, so it's something that is harder to do right now. Maybe we're going to have to be more aware on the weak side, maybe (use) flares to get guys open, to get more movement, so all the focus won't be on the guys on the (strong) side."
The Rockets ranked last in the NBA in passes made during the regular season, at 253.8 per game. They've scaled that down even further in the playoffs, with 227.4 per game. Against postseason defenses, their efficiency on isolation plays has taken a dip, from 1.12 points per possession down to one point even.