The Houston Rockets played relatively competitive basketball in two straight games against the Golden State Warriors. The road team was within one possession in the fourth quarter in both and came a few bounces from actually winning Game 1. But moral victories are especially hollow in the playoffs where too many of them can add up to elimination.
There’s no positive way to spin the situation Houston finds itself in now. It will need to win four out of the next five in order to advance to the Western Conference Finals. Also, James Harden can barely see after sustaining an injury to both eyes.
Harden left the floor in the second quarter after taking an accidental shot to the head from Draymond Green. He suffered bleeding in both eyes and a laceration to one eyelid. Few things sound more painful than that, and running around with blurry vision does not seem optimal.
Despite this, he managed to pour in 29 points on 9-of-19 shooting.
There’s hope it gets better with time. It may not matter.
Through two games, it’s been plainly obvious — even through impaired vision — that the Warriors are a superior team. They’ve fixed the hiccups that plagued them during an opening-round series against the Clippers. Last night they negated an 18-point deficit from behind the arc by attempting 14 more shots than Houston. The Dubs shot over 50 percent in Game 1 and have controlled the glass while the Rockets, once again, heave brick after brick from three-point land.
Golden State has felt beatable so often during this dramatic, up-and-down season. Right now is not one of those times.
There is no grand conspiracy at play. The NBA isn’t putting the screws to Houston and calling things unfairly. The complaining is becoming increasingly like a boy crying wolf. Or perhaps a coping mechanism because admitting the truth — that things look very bleak — would hurt too much.
If the NBA’s incumbent dynasty is to come to an abrupt end it will be one done in storybook fashion against long odds. It will come courtesy of a protagonist who can’t make out shapes and colors.
Tough to see that happening.