NBA PLAYOFFS

Fred Faour: 5 observations from the Rockets Game 1 loss to the Warriors

Steph Curry was not great, but it did not matter. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Rockets lost Game 1 to Golden State in the Western Conference Finals 119-106. Here are five observations on the loss:

So much for home court: The Rockets worked all season to get homecourt advantage, and they gave it away in one night. In reality, this was a game they had to have, and they lost it in a third quarter where they were outscored 31-24. Golden State also was better in the fourth quarter and that was the difference.

No answer for Durant: The biggest concern going in was that the Rockets could match up with the Warriors' Big Three, but did not seem to have a matchup for Kevin Durant, the big fourth. That proved to be true, as Durant dominated with 37 points. James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela held their own with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, but Durant was the difference.

Awful a Moute: Luc Mbah A Moute was a serious liability for the Rockets. He took too many shots -- hitting none of them -- and looked like a rec league player. He scored as many points as a dead person. That will not beat the Warriors.

Useless Ariza: Trevor Ariza was almost a zero, getting five fouls and taking bad shots. He scored a whopping 8 points. The Rockets needed more.

No help for Harden: The Beard scored 41 and played well, but got little help. Chris Paul scored 21 but on just 7 of 16 shooting. Eric Gordon had 15 and Clint Capela 12, but there simply was not enough offense throughout the roster. 

The bottom line: The Rockets looked overmatched in a game they had to have. This series could get out of hand fast. A similar effort in Game 2 and the Rockets could easily go full Raptor.

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It's easy to blame Bill O'Brien for the Texans woes. He is a lousy GM, a below average play caller and his offense is boring, predictable and ineffective. Not once has he had a top 10 offense in the league. So he does not get a pass here.

But Deshaun Watson shouldn't, either.

Last year, Watson was in the MVP conversation entering the game in Baltimore. Four of the nine games he played before that, Watson had an ESPN Total QBR over 85, which is playing at an elite level.

Since that 41-7 debacle (where his QBR was 13.6), Watson has played 10 games. He has topped 85 just once (and barely - 85.6) in the win over the Patriots. While QBR is not the be all end all, it shows a trend. And before you blame the talent around him or the ridiculously stupid DeAndre Hopkins trade, eight of those games were with Hopkins in the lineup.

Over his last 10 games, Patrick Mahomes has done it five times (and just missed last week at 84.7). Lamar Jackson has done it six times in his last 10. Russell Wilson is six for his last 10. Dak Prescott? Three. Aaron Rodgers? Three. Ryan Tannehill? Three. Josh Allen? Two. Lamar Jackson led the league last year with an 83 for the season. Watson was sixth at 71.3. To be a top 10 quarterback, you had to average 64.1. In two games this season, Watson sits 20th, about where he was over the last six regular season games and two playoff games last year.

In essence, Deshaun Watson - who often gets compared to those players - is not on their level. Yes, O'Brien has a lot to do with it, but it's also time to start looking at Watson's performance and regression as an NFL quarterback.

In 2018, Watson had four such games. In 2017, four in six starts. And now ONE since that Baltimore game. In fact, he has topped 80 just once in that stretch, and 60 just three times.

What it tells us is Watson has been an average quarterback over his last 10 starts. The Texans invested heavily in an offensive line to protect him. They have added depth at WR but a net loss without Hopkins. Elite quarterbacks turn in performances like that roughly half the time. Getting more consistent has always been an issue for Watson. But since that Baltimore game, he has not been close. And he is being paid to be elite.

In the end, O'Brien is still the main culprit. He has hand picked all the players around Watson, he designed the offense, and he controls everything.

But it's time to quit giving Watson a pass. Right now, he is part of the problem.

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