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Series Preview: Warriors vs. Rockets

As contenders stumble, is 'flipping the switch' a choice for the Warriors, Celtics and Raptors? -
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After taking down the Clippers in six games, the squad advances onto the next round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs, presented by Kaiser Permanente. Next up for the Dubs is a best-of-seven series against the fourth seed Houston Rockets. Out of the four games these teams have played against each other during the regular season, the Dubs won just one of of those matchups. However, each of those games was played with at least one key starter on either side sitting out, and that doesn’t include DeMarcus Cousins, who tore a left quad muscle in the opening minutes of Game 2 of the Dubs’ first round matchup with the Clippers.

And if a postseason matchup with the Rockets sounds familiar, it should, as this will mark the fourth Warriors-Rockets playoff series in the last five seasons. This one, however, will mark the first second round matchup between the two teams, as they met in the Western Conference Finals in 2015 and 2018, and in the first round in 2016. The Warriors won each of those playoff series, taking the first two in five games before rallying from a 3-2 series deficit to win Games 6 and 7 of the conference finals last year.


Playoff Ranks
PTS: 124.5 (1st)PTS: 107.0 (8th)
REB: 46.0 (5th)REB: 44.2 (9th)
AST: 31.2 (1st)AST: 18.4 (15th)

The Warriors clinched the first-round series in Game 6 over the LA Clippers, with a collective group effort advancing the Dubs to the Western Conference semifinals. In the first-round, the Warriors were challenged in ways they didn’t expect; with Game 2 presenting unforeseen adjustments in the wake of Cousins’ injury and the Clippers’ return from a 31-point deficit. However, the team quickly rebounded with Kevin Durant taking the lead and averaging 35 points for the series, including 50 in Game 6 in Los Angeles.

After the Dubs took a 21-point loss in the first game against the Rockets this season, the other three matchups between the two teams were much closer. The Rockets used a James Harden game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Dubs by one in overtime in January, and Houston was without Harden when they picked up a six-point victory over the Dubs in February. The Warriors, however, got one back in their most recent matchup with Houston in March, edging the Rockets by two in a game that Kevin Durant sat out. DeMarcus Cousins had a big game in that one, but since he went down with injury in the first round, the Dubs will need to find another way to overcome Houston’s speed and firepower. Stephen Curry (28.0 ppg), Kevin Durant (25.0 ppg) and Klay Thompson (21.5 ppg) all averaged over 20 points per game, while Harden averaged 33.3 points against the Warriors this season.

GSW: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins
HOU: Chirs Paul, James Harden, Eric Gordon, PJ Tucker, Clint Capela

GSW: DeMarcus Cousins (torn quad) and Damian Jones (left pectoral surgery) is out. Team Notes
HOU: None. Team Notes




PTS: Durant (35.0)PTS: Harden (27.8)
REB: Green (7.8)REB: Capela (10.6)
AST: Green (7.8)AST: Harden (8.0)

Though dealing with minor injuries throughout the season, the Houston Rockets finished fourth in the Western Conference, tied with the Portland Trailblazers at four games behind the Warriors. They finished with the second highest offensive rating in the league (114.8 points per 100 possessions), just one tenth of a point behind the Warriors (114.9), thanks in part to the season-long performance by James Harden; he has been in the MVP discussion after a 32-game streak of reaching 30-or-more and finishing as the top scorer in the league with 36.9 points per game. Backcourt partner Chris Paul finished the season averaging 15.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 8.2 assists, and continued to contribute with his typical rugged defense on opposing guards, adding an average of two steals per game. The Rockets lean on undersized centers in Clint Capela and Kennith Faried, each of whom are aggressive in the paint. Capela, at 24 years old, is coming off a career year in which he set personal highs in points (16.6), rebounds (12.7), and minutes per game (33.6). After being waived by the Brooklyn Nets in January, Faried has found renewed energy with the Rockets and averaged 12.9 points and 8.2 rebounds, marks he had not reached since the 2015-2016 season.

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