James Harden Kevin Durant
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets defends Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors in the first half in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center on May 14, 2018 in Houston. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets are in trouble.

That much is clear following their 119-106 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals. Staring at a potential 0-2 series deficit before heading on the road, Houston has put themselves in a virtual “must-win” situation Wednesday night for Game 2.

It’s not simply that the Rockets lost the series opener and surrendered home-court advantage to the defending champions. The way Houston was soundly defeated by Golden State doesn’t offer much hope for the team that led the NBA with 65 regular-season wins.

James Harden was probably the best player on the court Monday night, scoring 41 points on 14-24 from the field. Chris Paul added a double-double as the two guards combined for 64 points on just 41 shot attempts. Both Houston guards were better than Stephen Curry, whose 18 points were a career-low in 17 conference finals games.

Draymond Green didn’t have a big shooting night either. He made just one field goal and didn’t hit double digits in points, rebounds or assists.

And it still wasn’t nearly enough for the Rockets to beat the Warriors.

Facing a team with four Hall of Famers and two of the league’s three best players will do that. When one or two stars are having an underwhelming offensive game, there’s still two more that will pick up the slack.

Curry only made one three-pointer, but Golden State’s other Splash Brother made six shots from behind the arc, including a back-breaking three to give the Warriors a 10-point lead with 3:55 left to play. Thompson ended Game 1 with 28 points on nine-of-18 shooting.

Kevin Durant was the biggest difference-maker Monday, scoring 37 points on 14-27 shooting. It was a true showcase of just how unguardable the forward is, making contested jumper after contested jumper. There was nothing Houston could do to stop Durant, and it’s a reality that the Rockets will have to live with for the remainder of the series.

“This is why anybody would want him (Durant) on their team,” Warriors Coach Steve Kerr told reporters in the post-game press conference. “You think about a couple years ago, and we’re in the Finals and we couldn’t quite get over the hump. Kevin is the guy that puts you over the hump.

“I don’t know what you do to guard him. He can get any shot he wants.”

Even if Durant doesn’t score 37 points every night—it can’t be ruled out since Houston doesn’t have anyone that can stop him—it’s always going to be something with Golden State. Curry might decide to start making 30-footers, or Thompson will get the hot hand. It’s a pretty safe bet that Green won’t be held to just one made shot for the rest of the series.

Game 1 was another reminder that the Warriors are on a different level than any other team.

Golden State has gone 25-3 in the playoffs since adding the NBA's second-best player to a record-setting 73-win team. The Warriors won 58 regular-season games, even as their four All-Stars missed a combined 66 games and the team lacked the motivation to give it their all before the playoffs.

Houston’s historic offense that put them seven games ahead of Golden State in the regular season isn't nearly enough to make them the Warriors’ equal.

Harden’s incredible step-back threes and iso-ball were enough to give the Rockets an early Game 1 lead, but it wasn’t sustainable. The guard looked gassed by the second quarter and was forced to sit for 13 of the contest’s 48 minutes. Golden State outscored Houston by six points during Harden’s time on the bench. The Warriors had the same edge in the 10 minutes that Paul rested.

Game 2 could go the Rockets’ way. The Warriors managed to lose a road game in each of the first two series. Houston is a 1.5-point favorite in Game 2, according to OddsShark, and they can be as efficient as Golden State when they're at their best.

A Game 1 loss means the Rockets have to be at their absolute best four times over the next six games, and without home-court advantage. It means they’ll have to get more out of role players like Trevor Ariza and Eric Gordon, who had too many wasted opportunities on offense. It means Clint Capela will have to be the best defensive player—or close to it—on the floor, and not Draymond Green, who posted a Game 1-high plus-19.

It also means Harden will have to keep playing like the MVP.

“I'm just going to tell him (Harden) that he needs to get 55 next time,” Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni joked when asked if he was discouraged by the 13-point loss despite Harden’s 41 points.

Houston’s Game 1 numbers were similar to the statistics that helped them earn the league’s best record. They made 46 percent of their shots while committing 13 turnovers, both of which were aligned with their season averages. The Rockets hit two fewer threes and six fewer free throws than usual, but that was made up for by Harden, Paul and Capela totaling 13 points above their combined scoring average on 58.3 percent shooting. The trio shot a combined 49.5 percent from the field in the regular season.

The Rockets are in trouble, and the rest of the series will be a formality if the Warriors take Game 2 in Houston.

Game 2 Prediction: Golden State over Houston, 123-117