NBA Playoffs Preview: Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors

15
Apr

For as historic as the Warriors have been all season, it’s looking like they’re set up for the most boring first round matchup of them all. That seems weird to say about a team that has Steph Curry chucking shots from 45 feet consistently, but it’s true. There’s just not a ton to be excited about as they should roll right on over a Houston Rockets team that was very close to being the unanimous most disappointing team of the season (hats off to you Chicago).

The Rockets didn’t even get into the playoffs until the last day of the season, and while their clinching allowed Kobe to play an unmotivated Jazz team for his sendoff, I certainly would’ve rather seen the young, exciting Jazz take on Golden State. Still would’ve been a blowout, but the style at least would’ve been fun. I suppose the biggest perk to Houston getting matched up with the Warriors is Golden State should be ahead by enough that there’s no need to Hack-A-Dwight and make us sit through minutes that take 15.

Still, this could be ugly.

Keys to the Series

Rockets

  • Try to contain Steph. You won’t, but it’s at least worth trying. If you don’t, you might as well give up. Work the screens and at least make the shots contested.
  • Avoid the free throw line, at least for the bigs. The Rockets were originally built around winning the free throw battle, but with bigs like Howard and Clint Capela, that simply won’t happen. Score before you get hacked, as weird as that seems to be.

Warriors

  • Work out the kinks. The really tough rounds will be starting soon, and despite setting the single-season wins record, the Warriors weren’t at the top of their game for the last few weeks of the season. When they’re playing their best, no one can beat them. As they’ve been playing, three or four teams could challenge them for the championship. They need to use this series to play smart and get back to the unbeatable level.

X-Factor

Dwight Howard

The death lineup of the Warriors has neutralized just about every 7-footer it’s come across, but I’m still waiting for a big to start exploiting the small ball and use his size to dominant. If Howard is able to do that and able to play competent defense on that lineup, then there’s a chance (a tiny chance) that this series is interesting.

Prediction

Warriors in 4

Last year it took five games for the Warriors to beat the Rockets.  The Warriors are better and the Rockets are worse. Bust out the brooms.

About the author: Alex Lowe

A former college athlete in a sport that no one cared about, Alex now spends most of his days being a furiously biased Bulls and Braves fan. When he's not busy with that, he still imagines his 5'7" self making an improbable rise to NBA stardom.