The Warriors trailed by 16 points at one stage before switching to a smaller line-up heavy on shooting and went into half-time on a 21-4 run led by Shaun Livingston, who scored 14 of his 18 points in that second quarter.
They extended their lead to five in the third quarter and despite James Harden’s efforts they kept in touch with Houston through the fourth quarter, with a late pair of Curry free throws sealing victory.
Harden, runner-up to Curry in the league’s MVP voting at the end of the regular season, had 28 points and 11 rebounds and was just one assist short of a triple-double.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of his ‘small-ball’ lineup on nba.com: “It really stretches people out. Houston does the same thing. It was an interesting chess match, because they like to go small and we like to go small.”
Houston must wait on news of Dwight Howard’s knee injury ahead of game two on Thursday and coach Kevin McHale said: “Hopefully Dwight is healthy and we can play big. We didn’t have that option with Dwight out.”