Game Day Preview: Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors, Game 3

Apr 18, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) and guard James Harden (13) walk down the court after the Rockets were called for a foul against the Golden State Warriors in the fourth quarter in game two of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Rockets 115-106. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 18, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) and guard James Harden (13) walk down the court after the Rockets were called for a foul against the Golden State Warriors in the fourth quarter in game two of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Rockets 115-106. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Houston Rockets have returned home for at least 2 more games in front of their home town crowd. Game 3 or their series versus Golden State tips off this evening with continued uncertainty of whether Stephen Curry will play.

With the Rockets already down 2 games in the best of 7 – round 1 series, most pundits and fans have little faith Houston can win a game let alone the series. Certainly their Game 2 effort far exceeded the Game 1 blow-out. That said, without Curry in the line-up the Rockets were still unable to take advantage to steal a win. Further Game 2 punctuated just how poor the on court chemistry of James Harden and Dwight Howard is.

Perhaps it’s unfair to expect much more from a team with 2 All-Stars who can’t find mesh, a head coach who can’t seem to master rotations and a team who’ve never gelled on or off the court. Though nothing has been formalized Bickerstaff has to know his tenure as head coach will never become full time as continued rumors to bring in Jeff Van Gundy or Scott Brooks as the head coach replacement persist.

At the very least this squad owes their Red Nation fans the effort to try and give them one post season win which will be the emphasis in Game 3 and 4. Losing combined with a season ending oust will only rub more salt into the wounds of the dedicated fan base who’ve been tested this season. A win would at least save them from having to witness that disappointment first hand.

With that here’s the game day preview:

The Details

Venue: Toyota Center

Game Time: 9:30 PM EST – 8:30 PM CT

TV: TNT, TSN2, CSN Bay Area and ROOT in Houston

Radio: KNBR 680 AM, KTRH 740 AM

Recent History:

Last season the Houston Rockets were swept by the Warriors in the regular season a feat they repeated this season.

  • Game 2 of 2016 Playoffs at Golden State – Warriors 115 – 106 Rockets
  • Game 1 of 2016 Playoffs at Golden State – Warriors 104 – 78 Rockets
  • February 9th at Golden State – Warriors 123 -110 Rockets
  • December 31st at Houston- Warriors 114 – 110 Rockets
  • October 30th at Houston: Warriors 112 – 92 Rockets

Walking Wounded:


  • Stephen Curry, did get some shots up Wednesday but remains a game time decision. Expect the Warriors to error on the side of caution here with a view to the long term objective. Up 2-0 in the series there is no need to rush Curry back.
  • Kevon Looney – hip, day to day


As per rotoworld and CBS Sports

Projected Starters:

Warriors: (Stephen Curry),  *Shaun Livingston, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes  Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut

*Assuming the Warriors hold out Curry to allow him to heal Livingston would get the start again.

Rockets: Patrick Beverley,  James HardenTrevor ArizaDonatas Motiejunas, Dwight Howard

Game 1, coach Bickerstaff started Cory Brewer replacing Motiejunas then Game 2 Motiejunas was re-inserted.  The on-going guessing game of Bickerstaff’s rotations continues as D-Mo saw 15 minutes on court while Brewer who’d been regularly grabbing 30 minutes or more saw just 10 minutes.


WarriorsAndre Iguodala, Marreese Speights,  Brandon Rush,

Rockets:   Michael BeasleyJason Terry, K.J. McDaniels,   Corey Brewer,   Josh Smith

As per the comments above regarding Bickerstaff’s rotations, while McDaniels had the best plus/minus of the team in Game 1 he saw literally 1 minute on court in Game 2.

Stat Comparison:

Warriors PO stats
Warriors PO stats /
Rockets PO Stats
Rockets PO Stats /

Keys to Winning:

Noting changes from Game 2:

Go BIG and force Kerr to adjust to you: With a plethora of front court players who are all versatile Bickerstaff needs to insist Howard gets more touches as a bare minimum. The Warriors are expecting Harden to have the ball in his hand and take the majority of shots, so do something that will throw off those expectations. Further, capitalize on using Motiejunas, Capela and Smith to primarily pound the ball in deep and then use the versatility of the mid range game of Motiejunas and Beasley. At least try to do something Kerr and the Warriors aren’t expecting!

Perimeter defense: With the potential of Curry missing another game (or playing with a sore ankle) the Rockets need to do a much better job on the perimeter. Steph played just 20 minutes and scored half of the Warriors 30 three point total. Whether Curry plays or not Houston need to pick up both Curry and Thompson from the point of ball entry.

Take it to the Warriors from the tip and maintain that pressure for 48 minutesThe start of Game 1 was the Rockets undoing. They scored just 15 first quarter points to the Warriors 33 and by the half had only managed to equal Golden States total from the first half and trailed by 24 points. Game 2 the Rockets failed to play a full 48 minutes which ultimately led to their demise.

TRUST: As per Bickerstaff’s comment the players need to move the ball and themselves in order to make the Warriors job more difficult on defense. I’d take that a step further and state the obvious: The Rockets need to trust each other. While they haven’t demonstrated that ability for the majority of the season, if they don’t start trusting each other, this could get ugly – – fast!

Show why you fought to make the playoffs: I’m confused! It makes zero sense to me why the Rockets fought so hard not to miss the playoffs. They knew they would face Golden State and would lose their draft pick if they were successful. Why bother doing that if you can’t bring effort and trust each other on the court?  If there was one glaring problem on the court aside from a lack of intensity it was how obvious the lack of trust is between the players.

More from Space City Scoop

The Pick:

Even with the uncertainty of Curry not playing and being on the  road the Warriors are favored by 5 points with an over – under of 215.5 points and action heavily on the Warriors.

If there was ever a time for the Rockets to pull out a win one would think this is their opportunity that said I’ve lost all faith in their desire to do so:

Warriors with Curry by 10, without Curry by 5

After the game look for the post game grades and come join us on that page in the comments section to interact with other Rockets fans who want to discuss the grades, the game and compare how the Rockets performed in Game 3.

For more exciting news and stories on the Golden State Warriors visit our affiliate FanSided site  Blue Man Hoop

Plus check our our Preseason Team Preview of the Warriors:

Next: Warriors Preview

Make sure you check out Space City Scoops end of season Rockets Round Table:

Next: Houston Rockets SCS Roundtable Part 1

Next: Houston Rockets SCS Roundtable Part 2

Next: Houston Rockets SCS Roundtable Part 3

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