Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors: Full Series Preview and Analysis, Part 3

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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 NBA Playoffs: Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors

Western Conference Finals: Series Preview and Analysis

Key Match-up:

For the Rockets the key will be who can stop Steph Curry. Based on the current positional match-up it would be either Jason Terry or Pablo Prigioni which wouldn’t be logical as Steph would simply run them into the ground. Given that, I’d assume Kevin McHale will put length on Curry with Trevor Ariza drawing the initial coverage and Corey Brewer off the bench drawing additional coverage.

What we might see happen is McHale actually running some line-ups without a point guard on the court since James Harden handles the ball so much anyway. The problem with putting Ariza solely on Curry is who would guard Klay Thompson who’ll surely be assigned Harden as his key defensive assignment.

The front court will be easier for the Rockets to align against given Andrew Bogut will face off against Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones or Josh Smith will be aligned against Draymond Green leaving Harrison Barnes somewhat open with either Terry or Harden guarding him. In the last series Barnes made Memphis pay for that, so we’ll see if he can repeat his production against Houston.

On the Warriors side look for Thompson to draw the most time on Harden who will be looking to make a statement regarding why he deserved more consideration for MVP. That should help the Rockets since Thompson’s effort on defense will tire him out and hopefully effect his shot on the offensive end.

Ultimately the Rockets will need Trevor Ariza to play well on both ends because that will force the Warriors to cover the entire court. If he isn’t shooting well look for Steve Kerr to game plan for double coverage on Harden and packing the paint against Howard.

Let’s not pretend that this will be easy, it won’t. Golden State started and finished the year as the best defensive team and their offense was top three. The Rockets were excelling defensively until they lost Beverley and unfortunately the news didn’t improve as prior to Game 1 we learned he won’t be available for the Western Conference Finals. The best news is Houston come into this series with a ton of confidence having taken down the top offensive squad in the Clippers (and fifth in Dallas) and did it in three successive game facing elimination.

Bottom line Dwight Howard needs to be a factor (or one of the bigs) needs to be a factor or the Warriors will win easily.

Next: What's the Key?