NBA Playoffs: Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors
Western Conference Finals: Game 2
Thu May 21, 9:00 PM EST – ESPN, C+D
ORACLE Arena – Oakland, CA
Dwights health: Sure they played a majority of the season without Howard who was nursing his right knee procedure and were able to succeed, but this is the playoffs and the best team in the league. Now with his left knee listed as being sprained and his presence for Game 2 questionable they’ll need to rely on rookie Clint Capela if Howard can’t go. Howard sat out practice on Wednesday and continued to ice the knee and rest it. In addition to Capela the other bigs will need to pick up the slack. Josh Smith was good for the most part, but often disappeared defensively, and Jones was down right terrible. These 3 will need to step up in Game 2 for the Rockets to earn the split.
Need to break the trend and get a win: The Houston Rockets are now 0-5 this season versus the Golden State Warriors which isn’t great for building confidence. Having said that, the fact this was the best they’ve played them this season and it came without Dwight Howard for a large portion of the game it’s encouraging. Ideally the Rockets would like to get a split on the road so they’ll look to achieve that in Game 2 tonight.
Terrence Jones simply needs to play better: Without argument the worst Rocket on the court Tuesday was Jones who repeatedly missed easy put backs and seemed to stop himself more than his opponent’s defense. Certainly Draymond Green has been huge for the Warriors, but at 6’7″ it’s not like Jones shouldn’t be able to beat him at the rim. The fact he was able to stop him so easily was disconcerting. Jones went 2-10 and averaged 52.8% on the season, so let’s hope he makes the appropriate adjustments for Game 2. A good start would be to plant himself and go up much harder at the rim.
Adjustments to Game 1: Coach Kevin McHale needs to address the Warriors small ball line-up as they were the reason the Warriors came back from being down 16 points in the first half of Game 1. It’s unlikely Golden State will have the same issues adjusting to the pace as they did Tuesday so it feels like a missed opportunity. In addition, the Rockets will need to figure out a defensive plan for Shaun Livingston and stop allowing Steph Curry to get wide open shots as per Lee Golden’s article.
Transition Defense: Perhaps the biggest issue in Game 1 was the Rockets inability to defend the Warriors transition offense. Throughout the playoffs they’ve had issues defending transition, but against the Warriors it’s two-fold with their athleticism and speed.
Next: Limping Forward?