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Warriors vs. Rockets Preview: Cold team, meet freezing team

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The Warriors get to finally face a bad team.

SFChronicleGSWarriorsArchives Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors have played their last six games against the Los Angeles Clippers, Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, and Los Angeles Lakers (twice). Those five are all top six in the Western Conference.

Now they get a break in the form of the Houston Rockets, a team currently riding a ... wait for it ... 17-game losing streak.

That’s a nice change of pace.

The deets

Who: Golden State Warriors (20-20) vs. Houston Rockets (11-27)

When: 5:00 p.m. PT

Where: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas

TV: NBC Sports Bay Area

Projected starting lineups:

Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kelly Oubre Jr., Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney
Rockets: Sterling Brown, Kevin Porter Jr., Victor Oladipo, Jae’Sean Tate, Justin Patton

Last results:

Warriors: Lost to the Lakers 128-97 — 1-4 in their last 5 games
Rockets: Lost to the Hawks 119-107 — 0-5 in their last 5 games

Team ratings (garbage-time adjusted, per Cleaning The Glass):

Warriors: 109.1 offense (24th), 111.4 defense (9th), -2.2 net (22nd)
Rockets: 105.9 offense (29th), 112.8 defense (16th), -6.9 net (28th)

The story

The last time the Warriors and Rockets met, Houston played 12 players. In all likelihood, the Warriors won’t see any of those players tonight. Only three of them are still on Houston, and two of those three (Danuel House Jr. and Ben McLemore) are out of the rotation, while the third (P.J. Tucker) has been absent as the team explores trades.

How quickly things fall apart. From forced trades (James Harden), to players that didn’t work out (DeMarcus Cousins), to injuries (Eric Gordon and Christian Wood), nothing has gone right for the Rockets, who might only have one healthy quality NBA player (Victor Oladipo). And as such, they’re riding a 17-game losing streak, which is the perfect opportunity for a struggling Warriors team.

Players to watch

Warrior to watch: Steph Curry.

Curry had some pretty pointed words after the Warriors rather pathetic loss to the Lakers.

I’d guess Curry is going to be desperate to see the Warriors get a win, and against a lackluster Houston team, he’ll come out firing.

Rocket to watch: Kevin Porter Jr.

After the Cleveland Cavaliers gave up on the second-year pro, in part due to disciplinary issues, he found a home with the Rockets, who desperately need his talent. He had a stint in the G League, and then got called up and has been electric. In his four games this year he’s averaging 18.3 points and 8.3 assists per game.

He’s been inefficient and at times reckless, but it’s been fun to watch and he’s shown just how much potential he has.

Matchup to watch: Andrew Wiggins vs. Victor Oladipo.

It’s the matchup of hyper-athletic wings who are capable of being difference-makers on any given night but have both had disappointing seasons. Both teams need these players to show up.

Keys to victory

  • Jump out early and don’t let up
  • Put the clamps on Houston’s atrocious offense
  • Find easy buckets and secondary scorers

You gotta win this one, Dubs.