Even with shifting paths of panic, this series is still set for the Warriors to win

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So this is how it’s going to be, eh? The Rockets lose Game 1 and get an earful of panic, with an undertone of resignation. And when they came back to win Game 2, the hysteria was poured upon the Warriors.

Whether this Western Conference Finals goes five games or six (my prediction) or seven, the loser of each game will spend at least two days being dragged through the river of overreaction.

That’s where the Warriors were on Thursday, and where they will be on Friday and Saturday, all the way up until the teams tip off Game 3 Sunday at Oracle Arena.

Yet even though they’re wallowing for another three days after a resounding Game 2 loss in Houston, this series remains the Warriors to win. They simply have high-quality tools in their box.

When Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni says his team didn’t do anything different on offense in Game 2 than what it had done in a 119-106 loss in Game 1, believe him.

“We are who we are, and we had to be who we are,” he said after Game 2. “We just did it better, longer. Guys believe it, and we're not going to change anything up. That would be silly on my part to panic. You don't do that. We're very comfortable about who we are, and we can beat anybody, anywhere, at any time playing the way we play.”

The Rockets, according to NBA.com advanced stats, made 228 passes in Game 2 after making 226 in Game 1. Yes, some of the passes were made in motion, but they still ran plenty of isolation and they continued to target Stephen Curry’s defense.

Meanwhile, the Warriors changed, with at least two differences impossible to miss. They were sloppy early; after committing nine turnovers in Game 1, they committed five in the first five minutes of Game 2 and 11 in the first half. And they lacked the defensive intensity and integrity displayed in Game 1.

Put simply, the Warriors spotted the Rockets 13 points in the first half, off turnovers, and later undermined every attempt at a comeback by allowing forwards PJ Tucker and Trevor Ariza -- two guys who can produce only under a very specific conditions -- to operate under those very conditions. Their scoring is minimized unless they’re shooting practice 3-pointers from corners. The Warriors took that away on Game 1, gave it back in Game 2.

“That is a direct impact from turning the ball over and then we had a bunch of defensive lapses that allowed guys to get open looks,” Draymond Green said. “But once you give guys confidence, it’s the NBA and one of the best teams in the league. So, when guys get confidence, it’s tough.”

Said Stephen Curry: “We were just a step slow on our rotations and our switches. Guys got into the paint. We know their M.O. is isolation, and trying to get dribble drives, get the ball in the paint. The difference between Game 1 and Game 2 is they were finding guys on the wings and corners, and they were knocking down shots.

“We'll look at the film, obviously, to figure out where the kinks in the armor were.”

If the Warriors take care of the ball and play the kind of team defense revealed in Game 1 and for most of the postseason, all the talk about Curry’s defense and whether the Hamptons 5 should continue as a starting lineup will fade by the final horn of Game 3.

In which case, the Rockets should have to get their ears ready for the feedback turned upon Warriors since Wednesday night in Texas.

Game

Result/Schedule

Game 1

Warriors 119, Rockets 106

Game 2

Rockets 127, Warriors 105

Game 3

Oakland -- Sunday, May 20th at 5pm

Game 4

Oakland -- Tuesday, May 22nd at 6pm

Game 5

Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6pm

Game 6

Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6pm

Game 7

Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm

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