Golden State Warriors (61-14) at Houston Rockets (51-24)
How to watch
Date: Friday March 31, 2017
Time: 7:30pm PST
Location: Oracle Arena — Oakland, CA
TV: CSN Bay Area; ESPN
Radio: 95.7 THE GAME
Warriors: Kevin Durant (out); James Michael McAdoo (questionable); Kevon Looney (out – hip strain – probably contagious and got infected when Iguodala had the same issue)
Rockets: Ryan Anderson (questionable)
Two of the top teams in the West face off for the second time in four days, but a lot of the drama has been removed due to standings. After a couple of hard won victories in Texas, the Golden State Warriors come home with an eye on the #1 seed. The Warriors now hold a 3.5 game lead over the San Antonio Spurs, and the Houston Rockets have a comfortable five game lead on the fourth place Utah Jazz.
Egos removed? James Harden should sit this game out. It’s the second night of a back-to-back, and he’s currently struggling to play through a wrist injury sustained in a fall on Sunday while playing against the Oklahoma City Thunder. I have my own opinions on it, but for what it’s worth, the Rockets have taken a public and vehement stance against rest for rest’s sake. Rather than step back in order to prepare for the post season at full strength, Harden is going to push through this, damnit!
“It kind of went numb for a few minutes," Harden said of Tuesday's game when he made 5 of 20 shots and was clearly in pain on several occasions, including the 3-pointer he made in the final minutes. "You have to try to not think about it too much. You have to go out there and do whatever it takes to win.
"It'll keep getting better. But if I keep banging it and falling on it, it's going to keep going back to square one. Just got to limit banging it, keeping it away from any contact. It's my left hand. I do a lot with that.
The funny thing is, Harden has struggled against the Warriors this year:
-James Harden vs Warriors this yr: 19/56 FG, 3/25 on 3s, 20 turnovers— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 31, 2017
-A look at how GSW has defended him https://t.co/VpHMkEABYG
So, we will get the semi-full strength Rockets — they’re still without key shooter Ryan Anderson — and will try to best them with our semi-full squad. (Do I need a hashtag on that?)
There’s something magic happening with the Warriors right now. Could be the inexorable return of Stephen Curry’s shooting, could be the insane bench production or it could be the Ewing effect. Whatever it is, it’s working. The Warriors have won nine straight and plan to push that into double digits while handing the Rockets a third consecutive loss.
This is all something of a formality though as we play out the end of the season and await the return of Kevin Durant.
The @Warriors are clicking at the right time and @KDTrey5 is close to returning. #DubNationhttps://t.co/0hg7Nkkr1c— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) March 30, 2017
The Warriors have done an impressive job of holding the advantage in the West without him, but the return of Durant will not just boost our talent pool, it will be a huge psychological edge.