Game Preview: Houston Rockets vs Golden State Warriors

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After defeating the Milwaukee Bucks and moving to 33-12, the Houston Rockets prepare to take on the title favorite, Golden State Warriors. The Rockets are led in scoring, assists and rebounds by MVP candidate James Harden, at 28.9 points, 11.6 assists, and  8.3 rebounds a game. The Rockets are ranked 3rd in offensive rating, 15th in defensive rating, and 4th in net rating.

The Warriors make their first trip to Houston sitting atop the conference, and the NBA, at 36-6, and are on pace for an absurd, second straight, 70 win season. The Warriors are led in scoring by Kevin Durant, at 26.2 points, and in assists and rebounds by Draymond Green, at 7.7 assists and 8.7 rebounds per game. The Warriors rank 1st in offensive rating, both this year and ALL TIME, 1st in defensive rating, and 1st in net rating, by far.

Starting Lineups

After missing two straight games with the flu, Ryan Anderson status for Friday is still up in the air. The Rockets will likely start James Harden at point guard, Patrick Beverley at shooting guard, Trevor Ariza at small forward, Ryan Anderson at power forward, and Clint Capela at center, with Eric Gordon getting starter’s minutes and Corey Brewer (sigh) probably starting if Ryan is still too sick.

The Warriors will likely be missing a huge piece of their bench, with David West nursing an injured thumb. The Warriors' starting five will likely be Steph Curry at point guard, Klay Thompson at shooting guard, Kevin Durant at small forward, Draymond Green at power forward, and almost one-time all-star, Zaza Pachulia at center.

Three Things to Watch

  • Beat the Best to be the Best – The Rockets were able to shock the Warriors at home, in a stressful game in December, but now the Warriors have really found their stride, ranking 1st in offensive and defensive rating. Watch to see if the Rockets can pull of another victory, solidifying their claim as a contender.

  • All-Star Starters – Right after the starters for the 2017 all-star game where announced, the Western Conferences starting backcourt mates face off, in Harden and Curry. Watch to see who is able to outplay the other in the national spotlight Friday night.

  • Attack the Boards – A major key to the Rockets victory in Oakland was their ability to punish the Warriors on the offensive glass, pulling in 15 offensive rebounds, and the Warriors are still struggling on the glass, ranking 18th in defensive rebounding percent, to the Rockets 9th in offensive rebounding percent. Watch to see if the Rockets are able to once again take advantage of the Warriors rebounding woes.

Prediction and Tip-Off

The Rockets will play hard, and give the Warriors a tough time on Friday, but the Rockets are unlikely to pull out another victory over such a dominant team, and will probably fall to 33-13.

Tip-off will be at 7:00 P.M. Central Time in Houston on Friday, January 20th. The game will be televised on ESPN, with the radio broadcast on Sports Talk 790-AM.

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