- Tip Off: 7:30 PM PST
- Television: ESPN, CSNBayHD
Houston Rockets Team Profile
- Offensive Efficiency: 106.7 (3rd in NBA)
- Defensive Efficiency: 100.0 (8th in NBA)
Scope the Opposition: Red94.
Preview: The Golden State Warriors (13-10) are coming off a thrilling late-game victory over the Dallas Mavericks (13-10) and will be looking to collect back-to-back victories tonight when they host the Houston Rockets (15-8).
Houston is coming off a loss last night at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers (19-4). The defeat was their third in the last five games. Dwight Howard has nonetheless been dominant during the stretch as evidenced by his averages of 20.8 points and 16.8 rebounds on 55.4 percent shooting.
He provided a glimpse last night of the total package he presents when he dropped 32 points against the Blazers frontline. He accomplished this via offensive rebounds, flashing towards the hoop and post-ups.
Howard was particularly effective in the low post because he was allowed to repeatedly get to his left hand. On the season, the big man has not been particularly great with his back to the basket. Per Synergy Sports, he is converting 42.5 percent of his post-up shots and has attempted 127 field goals in this setting.
However, he was particularly good on this front last night and also had a similar output in his first matchup versus the Warriors.
Howard was defended by Andrew Bogut and Jermaine O’Neal (both of which are good defensive players) the first time their respective teams met, and the three-time Defensive Player of the Year was allowed to get to his left hand in that contest as well.
It’s one of his favorite moves to use whenever the opposition takes away his right jump hook. What’s interesting though is that Howard is far better in the pick-and-roll than he is in post-ups, but Houston uses him mostly on the block.
The reason for that is simple: his guys simply cannot get him the ball. Entering tonight’s contest, Howard has converted 18-of-25 shots (72 percent) in the pick-and-roll. The amount of attempts is fairly low because his teammates simply cannot make a decent pass to him on the move to save their collective lives.
Lob passes sail out of bounds on too many occasions. Furthermore, Howard often seals his man underneath the basket for a split second, which would probably allow him to catch and finish while drawing a foul, but Houston players are often late in seeing him.
This is part of the reason that the Rockets at times just say “screw it” and play four perimeter players around him. Last night, Chandler Parsons (a small forward) defended LaMarcus Aldridge on multiple possessions despite the size difference.
The added spacing helps make up for the poor interior passing for the most part because it provides the players better entry angles. Still, Houston is talented enough that many believe their postseason results will exceed those of the Warriors.
Ethan Sherwood Strauss of ESPN.com shared as much:
Of these two teams, they’re the offense that actually lives up to the hype. Not only would I pick them to beat Golden State in a series (for aforementioned reasons), but you could see their 4-out, 1-in style causing problems for other teams in the West. For example, San Antonio lost to the Rockets this season because Houston forced Tiago Splitter off the floor.
It will be curious to see how Golden State adjusts tonight considering that they can play big and small. With that said, if Bogut stymies Howard tonight, it might not matter what players are on the floor next to him.
Quick side note: Although Houston is reportedly interested in swapping Omer Asik for Anderson Varejao and another asset, don’t discount the possibility of the Rockets trading him for a solid passing wing player in the mold of Evan Turner or Vince Carter. Also of note, Josh McRoberts might fit well alongside Howard (just throwing it out there).
Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments section or you can contact me by email at JM.Poulard@Warriorsworld.net.