Golden State Warriors (4-1) vs. Houston Rockets (3-1)
State Farm Arena - Hidalgo, TX
5 p.m. PST
Radio: KNBR 1050 | (Local) TV: None
Buddy blog: The Dream Shake
Left still to wonder if the Golden State Warriors loss to the Miami Heat was a regular season game or just another preseason showdown, the Warriors are set to take on the Rockets in what should be an easy day on the offensive perimeter with a bit of a test down low -- maybe.
What's so special about the paint this year in Houston? According to Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon, current Rockets center Dwight Howard is primed for an MVP type of season. Originally reported by Fran Blinebury of NBA.com Olajuwon is singing Howard's praises, hoping to erase his previous seasons that have been overshadowed with numerous criticisms and questions of his true worth.
At least one former MVP doesn't think it should have taken a broken bone in Kevin Durant's foot to throw the 2015 MVP race wide open.
According to Hakeem Olajuwon, Dwight Howard was already prepared to kick the door down.
"He's healthy. He's strong. He's ready," said Olajuwon, who won the award in 1994 when he led the Rockets to the first of their back-to-back championships. "Now it's about having the attitude to go out every night and dominate."
Maybe Olajuwon is hoping we've forgotten about Howard's underachieving - it has been a pretty long and dramatic NBA summer. Or maybe Olajuwon, the best center in Rockets franchise history and a current employee of the organization, is just putting a positive spin on his organization. But it will set up an interesting preseason matchup.
Andrew Bogut's highest total of the preseason thus far came in the Dubs first contest against the Los Angeles Clippers where he put up 10 points and collected seven rebounds. Howard's best game and only appearance in the preseason came against the Dallas Mavericks where he poured in an MVP worthy six points and six rebounds. Granted "it's the preseason" is the popular statement this time of the year -- and Hakeem garners the max in hardwood respect -- I'll save my disbelief and sarcasm for a later date (future D12 joke and eye roll to be inserted here).
In 17 career games where Bogut and Howard have faced off, Howard has the edge with Bogut claiming only five wins. Although those games were split between five teams collectively (Rockets, Lakers, Bucks, Magic, Warriors), According to Basketball-Reference Howard has career averages of 17.4 points and 13.1 rebounds, while Bogut has collected 7.1 points and 6.9 rebounds. It would be the cherry on top to see Bogut flip the script on that history and debunk Olajuwon's claims.
So Bogut and Howard are set to face off, if Howard plays -- he's been dealing with a sore knee for the past week, resulting in the missed games. On top of the key, guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will be ready to drive past Rockets all-star guard James Harden in the same manner that every other FIBA player did all summer. That's also contingent on whether Harden suits up -- he's been a DNP for the Rockets last three games.
At this point it's pretty apparent what the Warriors can expect from newcomer Leandro Barbosa and the northern Cali human pogo-stick named James Michael McAdoo. There's still time for Harrison Barnes to materialize into the starter that Steve Kerr is trying to mold, and the initial impressions of Bogut have been fantastic. He's healthy -- what more can you ask for? A matchup against the league's best paper center should serve as another measuring stick capable of achieving a greater level of confidence heading into the regular season.
Out of 199 regular season contests as a whole, the Warriors have won 81 games; the Rockets snatched two of three meetings against Golden State last season. With three preseason games left, the Warriors will seek retribution for their loss in Miami. Perhaps they'll take it out on the Rockets who have also only lost one game, Houston sports a preseason record of 3-1.
Good games in the NBA preseason are hit or miss. There's no preseason hardware to be won by any of the 30 clubs in the league, so perhaps it's a good time for head coach Steve Kerr to sit a few guys and sacrifice those good vibes or what's more commonly referred to as "positive momentum" the Warriors have collected in their first five games. After all, what's a 7-1 preseason record worth if it results in the one thing that's held the franchise back for the last couple of years -- injuries.