The Golden State Warriors need a win. Badly. They’re coming off of two deflating losses — a blowout at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks, and a 12-point defeat to the lottery-bound Minnesota Timberwolves.
Now they get a second chance at a lottery team.
Who: Golden State Warriors (31-32) vs. Houston Rockets (16-47)
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
When: 4:30 p.m. PT
TV: ESPN (available on fuboTV)
Projected starting lineups:
Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kent Bazemore, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney
Rockets: Armoni Brooks, Kevin Porter Jr., Jae’Sean Tate, Kelly Olynyk, Christian Wood
Warriors: Lost to the Wolves 126-124 — 2-3 in their last 5 games
Rockets: Beat the Bucks 143-136 — 1-4 in their last 5 games
Team ratings (garbage-time adjusted, per Cleaning The Glass)
Warriors: 110.0 offense (24th), 111.6 defense (9th), -1.6 net (21st)
Rockets: 107.2 offense (27th), 114.9 defense (26th), -7.7 (28th)
The Warriors are still firmly holding a spot in the play-in standings, as they sit three games ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans with nine to play (though three of those nine are against the Pelicans, so they can’t fall asleep at the wheel). And even with the rough recent losses, the Dubs — who currently occupy the 10th and final spot — are only a single game behind the Memphis Grizzlies, who sit in the No. 8 spot. If the Warriors can get there, they’ll only have to win one play-in game, instead of two to make the playoffs.
So games like this are absolutely critical.
Players to watch
Warrior to watch: Steph Curry.
Curry is still playing exceptional basketball, but he’s cooled down since that stretch of unfathomably good play. Unfortunately for the Warriors, they seem incapable of winning when he doesn’t do that. So against a Houston team that struggles defensively, and is almost entirely void of quality perimeter defenders, he’ll need to go off if the Warriors want to win this game.
Rocket to watch: Kevin Porter Jr.
Every time these teams play, I mention Porter. And he bears extra mention now, because what he did on Thursday against the Bucks was utterly sensational: 50 points on 16-for-26 shooting, with 11 assists. Dare I say that’s Curry-esque? Porter has still played only 73 games in his career, so he’s capable of shooting the Rockets out of a game as much as he is shooting them into one.
Matchup to watch: Kevon Looney and Draymond Green vs. Christian Wood.
Despite Porter’s recent explosion, Wood remains Houston’s best player by a long shot. If the Rockets want to win this game, they’ll need Wood to dominate Looney, and hold his own when the Dubs go small with Green. Keep your eye on this one.
Keys to victory
- Play aggressive but disciplined defense against an offense with limited options
- Be competitive rebounding the basketball
- Put the ball in Steph Curry’s hands
Come on, Warriors. Don’t drop the ball here.