1. Houston re-shaped their roster pretty significantly around their two stars since they left the floor in Portland following their crushing game six ouster. Three newcomers that played a prominent role in the Rockets game 1 victory each had one very significant thing in common. They’re NBA champions. Jason Terry, Trevor Ariza and Corey Brewer each brought championship experience to a team that had none and it showed in the 10-point victory in Game 1. Three minutes into the game, Ariza had assisted on two of the Rockets first three buckets, had a rebound and a steal on his way to arguably the most complete game of his 53-game postseason career. He finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, three steals and just one turnover in just under 38 minutes. It was Ariza’s 767th career game, playoffs and regular season combined, and it was the first time he’d ever amassed at least 12 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three steals in a game.
Jason Terry was instrumental in the Rockets getting off to a fast start, he nearly pulled off his first postseason since 2011, when he made a steal in the game’s opening minutes and rose to the rim – and dropped it in. He made 4-of-7 3-pointers and scored 16 points. He also had two steals to offset his two turnovers. Brewer was his usual self, it just took a while to get there. He scored his first bucket less than a minute after he checked in during the first quarter. Off a steal, he took a pass 80 feet from the basket, turned on the jets and drove past four Mavericks and rose to the rim for the transition basket. But when the fourth quarter started, that was all he had to show on his entire stat sheet. One basket and zeroes across the board everywhere else. Then he exploded in the fourth quarter.
While his teammates managed just three makes on 13 shots, he knocked down four of eight, including three 3-pointers. He scored 13 points in the fourth quarter and made sure Dallas never got close enough to make a game of it at the end.
2. The idea that Harden didn’t have a strong game is pretty silly. He scored only 24 points, so the Mavericks executed their game plan of taking Harden out of the game and made other guys beat them, right? He took 11 shots and scored 24 points. He had a playoff career high 11 assists. Those 11 assists led to 27 points. so five of his assists led to five-pointers. That’s half of the 10 3-pointers the Rockets made in the game. It also brings Harden’s total of points he was directly responsible for to 51. He also had only two turnovers. I can’t imagine that’s what Dallas was aiming for.
3. The rotation change behind Dwight Howard is a done deal. Rookie Clint Capela is the backup center and is in the team’s nine-man playoff rotation. He has a lot to learn about defending withou fouling and compensating for the obvious lack of respect he’ll get from officials. But that is no different than the multi-time all-star that he backs up. His impact on the defensive end was noticeable. Howard and Capela played no minutes together and the team played roughly 15 minutes with neither on the floor. Dallas shot 10-31 (32 percent) with Howard in the game. They shot 15-34 (44 percent) from the floor with Capela in the game. With both centers on the bench, Dallas was 19-34 (55 percent). If either or both can stay out of foul trouble, the Rockets interior defense is markedly more stingy. The duo also combined for seven blocked shots.