Game Day Preview: Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors, Game 4

Apr 21, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) attempts to spin around Golden State Warriors center Marreese Speights (5) during the third quarter in game three of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. The Rockets won 97-96. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 21, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) attempts to spin around Golden State Warriors center Marreese Speights (5) during the third quarter in game three of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. The Rockets won 97-96. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

With a home win in the books the Houston Rockets are now in the series no one thought they could win, let alone get a single victory. Granted, the win came without Stephen Curry, but the door has been opened. It may be only slightly ajar, but there is light.

The Houston Rockets played with more passion in Game 3 and have progressively improved each game. That said, this is the same Houston Rockets team whose calling card this season has been inconsistency. Another home victory would even the series, but that task will be all the more difficult given the likelihood Curry will return.

Despite their win Bickerstaff’s rotations have been mind boggling throughout the series with only the apparent benching (or extremely limited minutes) of Corey Brewer making any sense.  As well as Houston played in Game 3 it could be argued the Rockets beat themselves with a terrible shooting night from the field.

For his part if Curry plays there is the potential he’ll be rusty which could lead to turnovers or poor shooting, but the Rockets have to enter Sunday with the mindset of a Game 7, since a loss and Game 5 at Oracle looming it would surely be a mountain too high to climb.

The team fought to make the post season, showcased passion in their win and have repeatedly said they believe they can win. Now it’s time they prove that to Clutch City and perhaps more importantly to themselves.

With that here’s the game day preview:

The Details

Venue: Toyota Center

Game Time: 3:30 PM EST – 2:30 PM CT : Make note of the early tip-off


Radio: KGO 810AM/KTCT 1050AM,790 AM

Recent History:

  • Game 3 of 2016 Playoffs at Houston – Rockets 97 – 96 Warriors
  • Game 2 of 2016 Playoffs at Golden State – Warriors 115 – 106 Rockets
  • Game 1 of 2016 Playoffs at Golden State – Warriors 104 – 78 Rockets

Walking Wounded:


  • Stephen Curry is listed as probable to play which is in concert with all the media reports
  • Kevon Looney – as per rotoworld had arthroscopic surgery (left hip) to repair a torn labrum -out 4 to 6 months


As per rotoworld and CBS Sports

Projected Starters:

Warriors: Stephen CurryKlay Thompson, Harrison Barnes  Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut

*Assuming the Warriors play Curry based on the copious reports he will.

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 and remained in the line-up Game 3 while Brewer has been relegated to the bench – at the deep end of it.


WarriorsShaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala, Marreese Speights,  Brandon Rush,

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

As per the comments above regarding Bickerstaff’s rotations continue to be baffling with Clint Capela and McDaniels rarely seeing the court.

Stat Comparison:

Warriors Series Stats up to G3
Warriors Series Stats up to G3 /

(above charts as per

Keys to Winning:

Again not much changes from Game 3 given it was their lone victory:

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.

OF NOTE: For as many who are citing Howard’s decline each of his paint touches led to 1.88 points per possession as per Sports VU

Perimeter defense: With Curry’s likely return the Rockets need to be keenly aware of picking him up immediately and defending the arc as well as transition. Though the Rockets held the Warriors to 24% it could be argued that had more to do with Golden State beating themselves. Again as per Sports VU the Warriors shot 6 of 21 on uncontested 3 point shots in Game 3.

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. Game 3 the Warriors almost came back to win. The Rockets were lucky given the Warriors weren’t shooting well, Curry was out and Draymond Green took his eyes off the ball moving before he had it in his hands leading to a turnover. Still, there are tangible results to build upon, not the least of which was holding off Golden State.

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.

Handle Warriors backcourt: Sure the Warriors have Curry and Thompson which is already a handful to be tasked with limiting, however the play of Shaun Livingston has proved to be equally difficult. Obviously the priority is to be on top of Curry so he can’t

A) light the Rockets up from the arc and

B) close his passing lanes so he can’t get everyone else hooked up.

More from Space City Scoop

The Pick:

Given Curry’s return is a veritable certainty the pundits have made the Warriors the favorite increasing the odds by over 3 points from the last game to 8.5 points.  This is more like a 12.5 point favorite given most home teams start with a 3 or 4 point edge. The over – under is 217.5 points with early heavy action on the Warriors.

Ideally Houston fight and even the series, but my main hope is if the Rockets lose they keep it close for the fans and also themselves. Given a loss would push them to 1-3 with the next game in Oakland it’s doubtful Houston would return other than to clear out lockers. Therefore, if this team truly does care about each other they need to squeeze every drop of enjoyment of playing together out on this game. It’s no secret this version of the Rockets failed to ever gel on or off the court and the players are well aware of that. The minute this post season ends Daryl Morey (or whoever is GM if he is ousted) will begin the off season project of making massive changes.

Warriors by 8 * Again, I’ll hope for the fan base this isn’t the case, but it’s hard to bet against the top seed especially with Curry returning.

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 what could be their final game at the Toyota Center this season.

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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