Spurs-Rockets featured largest Game 1-to-Game 2 turnaround in decades

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The Rockets ran all over the Spurs in Game 1, winning by 27. James Harden picked apart San Antonio in transition and the pick-and-roll. The Spurs’ bigs couldn’t keep up, as Houston generated easy looks at the basket and open 3-pointers.

It was total domination.

“We haven’t won anything so far,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said the following day.

San Antonio proved him prophetic last night, winning Game 2 by 25 to even the series. Everything we thought we understood one game into this series flew out the window.

The 52-point swing was the largest from Game 1 to Game 2 in 22 years and fourth-largest ever.

The Magic beat the Celtics by 47 in Game 1 of the 1995 first round then lost to Boston by seven in Game 2. That 54-point swing was the last time fortunes changed so dramatically from Game 1 to Game 2.

In the 1956 division semifinals, the St. Louis Hawks beat the Minneapolis Lakers by one in Game 1 then lost by 58 in Game 2. The 1973 conference finals featured the Celtics beating the Knicks by 26 Game 1 and then losing to Boston by 33 in Game 2. Those 59-point swings are tied for the largest ever between Game 1 and Game 2.

Here’s every series with a 40-point swing between Game 1 and Game 2:

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As you can see, several of those swings include a massive blowout and a reasonably close outcome. In Spurs-Rockets, each team earned a big win.

This is just the eighth time in NBA history, including last year’s NBA Finals, a team won a playoff game by 25 then lost the next game in the series by 25:

2017 second round: SAS 1, HOU 1 Game 1: HOU 126, SAS 99 Game 2: SAS 121, HOU 96
2016 NBA Finals: CLE 4, GSW 3 Game 2: GSW 110, CLE 77 Game 3: CLE 120, GSW 90
2016 conference finals: GSW 4, OKC 3 Game 2: GSW 118, OKC 91 Game 3: OKC 133, GSW 105
2008 first round: CLE 4, WAS 2 Game 2: CLE 116, WAS 86 Game 3: WAS 108, CLE 72
1982 conference finals: PHI 4, BOS 3 Game 4: PHI 119, BOS 94 Game 5: BOS 114, PHI 85
1980 conference semifinals: LAL 4, PHO 1 Game 4: PHO 127, LAL 101 Game 5: LAL 126, PHO 101
1973 conference finals: NYK 4, BOS 3 Game 1: BOS 134, NYK 108 Game 2: NYK 129, BOS 96
1972 conference finals: LAL 4, MIL 2 Game 4: MIL 114, LAL 88 Game 5: LAL 115, MIL 90

Where do San Antonio and Houston go from here? The Rockets, if they didn’t know it already, learned they can’t rest on their laurels. The Spurs can’t feel secure in their turnaround, not after Tony Parker‘s injury.

After two decisive victories, this series is anything but decided.