This could be an ugly one; both of these teams are playing in the second game of a back-to-back - Houston defeated the Orlando Magic 116-98 last night - and both teams are missing a critical player.
Thankfully, none of this matters much, because we still get to see Steph Curry and Chris Paul face off against each other!
No Kevin Durant
Durant is out for tonight’s game after straining his calf in this beautiful rejection of fellow max salary player, Harrison Barnes last night. Hugo will have more on this for GSOM shortly, but for now it’s worth noting that this is a relatively chill portion of our schedule — after tonight’s game, the Warriors will only play three games over the next week.
Additionally, Omri Casspi will also be a late scratch tonight with a mid-back strain.
Injury update: Omri Casspi (mid back strain) is out for tonight's game at Houston.— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) January 4, 2018
In light of the string of injuries that this team has endured over the first half of the season, it sure would be nice to get the entire roster healthy for a game or two!
Oddly enough (or actually not that odd at all), the Warriors have done pretty well for themselves with Curry - even when Durant’s not available.
Warriors net rating this season...— Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13) January 4, 2018
- Both Curry and Durant on floor: +15.9
- Durant on without Curry: +6.1
- Curry on without Durant:+19.8
Durant might be "better" but this perfectly illustrates the value of Curry in terms of how Golden State operates. https://t.co/rALldolCeV
No James Harden, plus some other key players for the Rockets
Sadly, this game was robbed of much of it’s appeal when the Rockets announced that they were shutting Harden down for at least two weeks. I still think he’s the front runner for MVP this year, so this won’t hurt his chances there; but that doesn’t help much for tonight’s game.
In addition to Harden, the Rockets will also be playing tonight without Luc Mbah a Moute, and Nene - further shortening an already top-heavy rotation for coach Mike D’Antoni.
All told, that’s a much nastier hit from injuries as compared to the Warriors. Harden is obviously a major cog in their system, but don’t underestimate the importance of Mbah a Moute, one of their best wing defenders.
Let’s get ‘em!