NBA Game Preview: Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors, 1/21/14
The Western Conference is loaded with talent and capability. Any match up can be randomized and picked from a hat out of the top eight (probably even ten) teams and you’re going to see a gun fight.
Despite the fact that the Warriors have won all three match ups this season, including a 131-106 win at Houston this past Saturday, tonight’s game between the Houston Rockets (29-13) and the Golden State Warriors (33-6) still might be the most fun match up of any two teams in the conference right now, for a few different reasons.
- James Harden and Stephen Curry are doing their best LeBron James/Kevin Durant impersonation from last season in terms of duking it out for the MVP award. Curry is leading the best team and offense in the league while Harden continues to lead the league in scoring and carry an immense offensive load for the Rockets. These are the two best lead and scoring guards in the game right now going head to head.
- Harden with some rivalry implications before the Rockets loss to the Warriors on Saturday, saying, “they ain’t even that good“.
- Dwight Howard, not James Harden, led the Rockets with 23 points and 10 rebounds in the loss to the Warriors on Saturday. Howard hadn’t played in their first two meetings.
- Much like every relevant Western Conference team, the Rockets and Warriors want to score the basketball.
- If the Warriors do win, it’d be their first time sweeping the Rockets in 41 years.
The Rockets are averaging 95 points per game against the Warriors, which is seven points less than their season average. They haven’t shot well from three against Golden State, shooting 26 percent and averaging eight three-point makes in their meetings when the Rockets usually make around 12 threes per game.
The Warriors are averaging 111 points per game against the Rockets, which is right around their season average. Against the Rockets they shoot close to 50 percent from the field, average 25 assists (where they dominate the league) but also 18 turnovers.
For the Rockets:
You have to starting making threes against this team. Having another scoring presence outside of Harden and Howard is especially crucial to combat the Warriors’ attack. James Harden doesn’t have a backcourt partner like Klay Thompson, so it’s up to Patrick Beverly, Jason Terry, Trevor Ariza, and your stretch forwards to knock down shots and make plays. Capitalize on those 18 turnovers the Warriors average against you and try to impose in the paint and on the free throw line. Most of all, try to contain at least one of the Splash Brothers.
For the Warriors:
Keep up the pace you’ve played with all season. Use your multiple defenders in Klay Thompson, Shaun Livingston, and Andre Iduodala to throw different bodies at James Harden, who struggled in their match up on Saturday. Continue to push the tempo and space the floor to make the Rockets’ bigs step out and defend action on the perimeter. Be the aggressor offensively and win the contributions battle.
My score – Warriors 110 Rockets 104
Do you know how hard it is to beat a team four times, let alone three times in a row? It’ll be a close one, but I like the depth and consistency of Golden State at home.
Last time these teams met though: