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

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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Jan 17, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) drives the ball to the basket during the second quarter as Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) defends at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

DEFENSE:

Repeatedly we hear “defense wins championships” yet the Rockets enter Game 1 as the only team out of the final four who have a negative differential. Much of that occurred when the Clippers bested the Rockets in Games three and four by 25 and 33 points. That’s not to say the Rockets have played good defense or even remotely close to how they did for the first two-thirds of the season.

When the Rockets were rolling defensively they employed a stellar interior defense mixed with the league’s best perimeter defense. They’ll need that versus Golden State who like themselves love to shoot the three.

What is concerning is though Dallas (ranked fifth) and Los Angeles (ranked first) were stellar offensive squads Golden State has so many weapons and they have a bench who can play both ends. For Houston to keep this series close and compete to move on to the finals they’ll need to bring the defense they started the season with, not the defense we’ve seen in the first two rounds of the post season.

TRANSITION DEFENSE:

As per above this category deserves it’s very own heading simply because it will be the main key to whether Houston can win this series. While the Rockets haven’t shown the ability to excel in this area through the first two series they’ll need to figure it out quickly as the Warriors will eat them alive if they don’t. No team is better at making their opponent pay on the transition than the Warriors. As noted above they don’t just simply put in lay-ups and dunks they pull up for threes in transition with Curry, Thompson, Barnes, Green, Iguodala and a host of others more than capable of hitting that transition three.

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  • PERIMETER MASTERY:

    Both teams can shoot the three with Houston having been the team who led all season with attempts, makes and defense of the perimeter.

    The post season has brought about a change with a more concerted effort at mixing their offensive sets inside. In the first series this had more to do with the inability of Dallas to guard the paint or because the healthy bodies of Howard and Jones made it more feasible.

    Versus the Clippers they simply didn’t have the depth to guard the perimeter as the Rockets eventually wore them down. Regardless, this new found offensive mix makes the Rockets less predictable and ultimate a more deadly offensive squad.

    If the Rockets want to move on to the finals they’ll need to bring their league best perimeter defense to the court which will start with Trevor Ariza and Corey Brewer’s defense on Steph Curry.

    Next: 3 Intangible Keys?

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