This is supposed to be a battle of the titans, but injuries have made a mockery of this game.
The Warriors are playing incredible basketball. Fourth in points, first in assists, third in rebounds, and fifth in points allowed per game. While those are antiquated stats in this analytics-driven world we occupy, those are kinda sorta incredible numbers anyway.
The Warriors have only had David Lee for 7 minutes this season. And they've won 13 games in a row. It's hard to find many quality wins in that stretch, but as Rockets fans know, a win is a win is a win. Who cares who it's against? You can only play who's on the schedule, and all those cliches. To Golden State's credit, most of those wins have been blowouts.
I know that the media wants this game to be an all-timer, and I've already read one preview trying to hype this game up, but it just seems laughable. At full strength, this is an even game worthy of hype. But with David Lee out for the Warriors, Bogut possibly out, and the Rockets missing (deep breath) Isaiah Canaan, Kostas Papanikolaou, Francisco Garcia, Terrence Jones, and Dwight Howard, it's ridiculous to expect the overachieving Rockets to pull out a win on the road against the best team in basketball. Oh, and James Harden has back spasms and Patrick Beverley is probably playing through pain.
Can you tell I'm already bracing myself for the blowout?
Tip off is at 9:30pm CST.
Point Guard: Patrick Beverley vs. Stephen Curry
Beverley wasn't available the last time these teams met, and it showed. Curry scored 13 points in the fourth quarter and effectively ended the game.
He's also, like, really good. I didn't know how good he would be coming out of Davidson. I didn't think he would be a bust or anything, but I'll admit that I never expected this.
Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. Klay Thompson
I'm giving the advantage to the Warriors here. Before you go ballistic, let me explain. We know James Harden has back spasms and is questionable for tonight. He played terribly against the Suns, but then again P.J. Tucker always gives Harden fits.
If I had my way, I would have McHale sit Harden and Howard tonight, plus even sit Beverley. Let Nick Johnson and Troy Daniels play as the guards for 48 minutes. Rockets get killed, but it doesn't matter because you didn't play your best players. It's a typical Pop strategy that I don't think any other coaches has the balls to do.
I expect Harden to play, but I expect him to look off. So no whining when he goes 1-10 to start the game.
Small Forward: Trevor Ariza vs. Harrison Barnes
Remember when we were all excited about Harrison Barnes? Then he wasn't amazing right away and everyone was like "Harrison Barnes sucks?"
Well, he never really sucked, but the move to the starting lineup has really helped him get back his confidence. I'm really fascinated to see what will become of Barnes and whether his future is in Golden State or not. The Warriors have him for this year and next, but owe their five best players roughly $66 million next season. Besides that, they have about $10 million more dedicated to Livingston, Barnes, and Ezeli. And Draymond Green's contract expires after this season and he's going to command serious dough. If any Warriors fans are hoping that he'll stick around for below-market value, they better hope he doesn't have Chandler Parsons' agent.
So the Warriors probably want to unload David Lee's massive contract, but who's going to take that without asking for something else? Barnes makes the most sense, plus maybe a draft pick. Hey Brooklyn, are you there?
Power Forward: Donatas Motiejunas vs. Draymond Green
Draymond Green. I loved you man. I wanted the Rockets to draft you so badly. Then you clotheslined Beverley, and I pretty much can never forgive you for that. Unless you go 0-20 tonight with 12 turnovers. Then we'll talk. I've already started to forgive Propeller Plane. I even typed out his actual name the other day! See, I can forgive.
D-Mo has to own the paint tonight if Houston is going to have any chance.
Center: Tarik Black vs. Andrew Bogut
Bogut got hurt 2 minutes into the last game for the Warriors. He's day-to-day. If he doesn't play, Ezeli and Speights will probably get minutes here.
There have been conflicting reports about Dwight Howard. I've heard that he might be back tonight but also McHale has said that he doesn't expect him or Terrence Jones back anytime soon. So...
Rockets: Propeller Plane, Joey Dorsey, Nick Johnson, um...
Warriors: Festus Ezeli, Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa, Andre Iguodala, Marreese Speights
Prediction: Rockets really lose by 50 tonight. Bloodbath in the Bay Area.
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