In games played against teams not named the Houston Rockets, the Golden State Warriors are a solid 37-27 thus far in the 2012-13 season. Against the Rockets, they're 0-3. Now, with playoff seeding of extreme importance, the two sides with face off to spar for the sixth seed in the Western Conference.
If you don't understand the importance of the seeding, the seventh seed will likely draw the San Antonio Spurs or the Oklahoma City Thunder. The sixth seed? The Grizzlies or Clippers are the likely dueling partners.
The Grizzlies and Clippers are clearly solid teams, but the Spurs and Thunder are the class of the Western Conference. Tonight's matchup between the Rockets and Warriors, a pair of teams just a half game apart, may play a big part in deciding who ends up in sixth and who ends up in seventh. Let's breakdown the matchups.
PG: Jeremy Lin vs. Stephen Curry
Sorry Jeremy, but Curry is probably going to drop 40 on us, like he seems to do once a week. Lin has been playing well, but Curry is a force from outside and statistically one of the greatest shooters at point guard of all-time (if not the best).
SG: James Harden vs. Klay Thompson
This is a matchup of a pair of players nearly traded for each other before the season. The Warriors apparently balked at trading Thompson for Harden when the Thunder offered, and I have to imagine they regret that now.
Thompson rounds out a ridiculously strong shooting backcourt with Curry, and he too has little conscience with throwing up shots. He's averaging over 16 points per game on 14.6 shots, and shows no signs of slowing down.
Harden has been dealing with an ankle injury, but if the Rockets' latest game was any indication, he's doing just alright. Harden is 5th in the NBA in scoring, and 2nd in PER among shooting guards. In short, this guy is pretty good.
SF: Chandler Parsons vs. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes was widely considered the favorite to be the first overall pick in the 2011 Draft when he first entered college at UNC. After a disappointing freshman year, he opted to stay in school for another year. The Warriors picked him up with the seventh pick in the draft.
He hasn't lit up the stat sheet, but Barnes has impressed scouts around the league for his versatility and athleticism, giving the Warriors hope that he could develop into an above average wing to flank Thompson and Curry.
You know what Parsons is. He has sweet hair, an improving jumper, and awesome alley-oop finishing ability. Ladies also love him.
PF: Donatas Motiejunas vs. David Lee
There are two rules in making player comparisons before the draft.
1. A player comparison must be two players of the same race
2. If a player is left-handed, you must compare them to another left-hander
By that logic, Motiejunas and David Lee are the same player. Lee's a little more experience (and admittedly way better), so we'll give him the advantage.
C: Omer Asik vs. Andrew Bogut
Ask this question a couple of years ago, and people would laugh in your face. In the last couple of years, however, Bogut has had a devastating arm injury (and a laundry list of other ailments), and Asik has quickly developed into one of the premier defensive centers in the league.
Asik ranks second in the league in rebounds per game, and seems to just get better with time. Meanwhile, Bogut has had struggles staying on the floor, and when he is on the floor, his offense is tremendously limited.
Bench: Carl Landry, Jarrett Jack, Richard Jefferson, Festus Ezeli, Draymond Green vs. Patrick Beverley, Francisco Garcia, Carlos Delfino, Thomas Robinson, Greg Smith
Jarrett Jack has been a revelation for the Warriors this year and should rank as a serious 6th man of the year candidate, and he's not alone on that Warriors bench. Landry is another strong vet on the bench and the Warriors have some firepower outside of the starting lineup.
Prediction: Rockets win fourth in a row against Warriors, 124-108