Matchup: Houston Rockets vs Golden State Warriors
Records: Rockets (33-25); Warriors (42-16)
Where To Watch
Date: Sunday, Feb. 24
Time: 7:00 AM IST
TV: Sony Ten 1
Location: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
The Golden State Warriors have the third-best record in the league and the best in the Western Conference.
Through 58 games in the season so far, among the teams that the Warriors have faced more than once, they have only failed to beat two teams at least once - the Houston Rockets (0-2) and the Toronto Raptors (0-2).
Could that change in this bout as the Rockets have the league's reiging MVP James Harden listed as questionable for the contest?
Irrespective of Harden's presence, the Rockets are a lot healthier and deep as compared to their previous game in the Bay.
Chris Paul has returned from his hamstring injury and played in nine of the team's last ten games. Eric Gordon has featured in fourteen of the team's last fifteen games. More importantly, the Rockets' starting center Clint Capela returned from his thumb injury on Friday in the team's loss to the Lakers.
🎥 Behind strong performances by LeBron and Ingram, the Lakers win tonight in comeback fashion over Houston, 111-106. #LakersWin pic.twitter.com/4V9vMnkhVn- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 22, 2019
As the team battled injuries to multiple players, James Harden was lighting up the league with his 30+ point scoring streak, which current stands at 32 (second-longest in league history). In the meantime, the management had also added key pieces in Austin Rivers and Kenneth Faried that helped the team's depth, something they lacked at the beginning of the season.
While the team has been playing well since Dec. 9 (22-11, sixth-best record in the time span), their recent form is slightly worrying. Over the last 10 games, the team has gone 5-5 and in three of those five losses thay have blown near 20-point leads.
Against the Pelicans on 30th January, the Rockets blew a near 15-point lead. Just ten days later, against the Oklahoma City Thunder, they led by 26 points and still lost.
Yes, Houston has improved in comparison to their early season play but their defense is also a concern. It has improved from early on and currently, the Rockets' defensive rating is ranked 25th in the league (lowest among current Playoff seeds).
Coming to the Warriors, a team that has been red-hot in 2019.
They have won 18 of their last 21 games and have strengthened their hold on the West's top seed, leading the Denver Nuggets by 2 games.
Despite their rough stretch early in the season (a 4-game losing streak and 5-8 stretch in mid-November), the two-time defending champions have dominated the league's offensive stats - offensive rating (116.0 - 1st), points per game (118.9 - 1st), FG% (49.0% - 1st), 3P% (38.4% - 3rd), FT% (81.3% - 4th), and assists per game (29.5 - 1st).
Since his return from injury, DeMarcus Cousins has seemed a great fit in the Warriors' system. Through 12 games, the former All-Star has averaged 14.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists on 43.1% shooting in 23.7 minutes per game.
- The two-time defending champions have a home record of 23-7 at the Oracle Arena.
- The Houston Rockets have a sub .500 road record of 13-16.
- The Warriors are set to miss Damian Jones (Pectoral) while Jacob Evans (Pelvis) is reportedly a game-time decision.
- The Rockets are expected to miss Iman Shumpert (Knee) while reportedly James Harden (Neck) is a game-time decision.
- In the two previous matchups so far, the Rockets have won both - one at home and one on the road.
Last Time They Played
Date: Jan. 4, 2019
Score: Rockets 135-134 Warriors [OT]
Rockets: James Harden - 44 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
Warriors: Stephen Curry - 35 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds on 14-of-27 shooting.