When and Where to Watch
Date: Thursday, Mar. 14
Time: 7:00 AM IST
TV: Sony Ten 1
Location: Toyota Center, Houston, TX
For the fourth and final time this season, the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets will face-off in a rematch of last season's Western Conference Finals.
Here are the biggest storylines heading to the final regular-season clash between these two teams:
With injuries behind them, the deep Houston Rockets have rallied around their MVP candidate James Harden.
They have won nine straight games, all since the All-Star break. Over the course of their nine-game win streak, the Rockets are the only team to rank in the top 5 in offensive (114.7, 4th) and defensive rating (106.3, 5th).
During this streak, they have registered wins against some of the best in the east in the Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Going forward, according to tankathon.com, the combined record of the Rockets' remaining opponents is ranked 21st in the league (.476).
While Harden has been the key to the team's revival since they were struggling after the first 25 games of the season (11-14), Chris Paul has been the difference maker in this win streak.
This streak began with the point guard leading the Rockets to a win at the Oracle Arena despite James Harden not suiting up for the game.
Since the break, CP3 is averaging 13.0 points, 9.1 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.7 steals in 32.5 minutes on the floor with an average +/- of + 5.7.
Warriors' recent slump
Winning just four of their last ten games (equalling their season's worst 10-game stretch), it's been a rough past month for the Golden State Warriors.
This bumpy ride began with a 22-point loss in Portland, then they dropped a game each in Miami and Orlando. Returning home didn't improve their fortunes as they lost two games of their most recent 3-game homestand - a 33-point drubbing at the hands of the Boston Celtics and a stunning loss to the Phoenix Suns.
The defense has been a huge issue for the two-time defending champions. During this stretch, the Warriors' defensive efficiency ranks 23rd in the league as they have allowed more than 115 points in five of the six recent losses.
After the Suns' loss, Stephen Curry was already pumped, looking ahead to this Rockets matchup
"The beauty of the NBA is that on Wednesday we have an opportunity to send a statement. We have to take advantage of that opportunity. We're looking forward to it, no question," Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. The Warriors are at Houston on Wednesday.- Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) March 11, 2019
Unfortunately, it won't be easy, as the Warriors would most likely be suiting up in Houston without the reigning Finals MVP Kevin Durant (ankle).
Rockets set to make history
With a win at the Toyota Center against the Warriors, the Rockets could become the first team to sweep the season series with the Golden State franchise in the Steve Kerr era.
They have won the previous three games by an average margin of 9.3 points per game with the most exciting one coming on Jan. 4, 2019 at the Oracle.