Healthy Rockets Prove to Be Warriors’ Kryptonite?


The Houston Rockets picked up a win on Saturday against current number one seed Golden State Warriors. They did so without reigning MVP James Harden, who was ruled out due to a strained neck and flu-like symptoms. Chris Paul led the Rockets to victory with 23 points and a season-high 17 assists. Eric Gordon poured in 25 points and the “Manimal”, Kenneth Faried, had himself a night with 20 points and 10 boards. The Rockets battled it out and maintained their lead for the entirety of the fourth quarter. As a team, the Rockets shot the ball well from three, knocking down 16 of 43 from beyond the arc (37.2%). CP3 also became just the eighth player in NBA history to reach 9,000 assists.

Sizing ’em up

During Saturday night’s game, the Rockets’ gameplan on the offensive end was extremely effective. They utilized ball screens and took advantage of the mismatches. It was no secret that the Rockets were looking for DeMarcus Cousins to defend the pick and roll. Chris Paul had the mismatch on Cousins several times throughout the game and made the Warriors pay. Cousins ended the night with a plus-minus of -17 which was a team worst for Golden State.

The combination of Clint Capela and Kenneth Faried as part of the frontcourt has looked good so far. For the first time in a while the Rockets looked like a top rebounding team. Having two of the best rebounding bigs in the league paired together can be tough to out hustle if you’re the opposing team. Capela and Faried combined for 25 rebounds against a top-10 rebounding Warriors team. There seemed to be no issues with spacing as Faried knocked down a couple of spot up threes in Saturday night’s win against the Warriors.

Healthy Rockets are Dubs’ Kryptonite

Rockets now improve to 3-0 against the Warriors on the season and are 8-5 overall since Chris Paul’s acquisition. With how well the Rockets play against the Warriors, one can say that the Warriors have trouble beating a Rockets team at full strength. During the 2018 playoffs, we saw just how much the Rockets can be a threat to this Warriors dynasty. There’s no telling what could’ve been if CP3 was healthy for games six and seven of last year’s western conference finals.

The Rockets are the only team in the Western Conference that remain unbeaten against the Warriors this season. Their success against the Warriors has happened by design, despite the Rockets’ overall performance this season. When the Rockets are healthy and locked in defensively, they’re among the toughest teams to beat in the NBA.

Warriors are the End Game

Since the 2017-2018 season, GM Daryl Morey has made it distinctively clear that the Rockets need to beat the Warriors in order to win a championship. They continue to build their roster with the aim of beating the Warriors in a seven game series. They proved just how close they were in accomplishing that feat last season during the playoffs. By acquiring guards like Austin Rivers and Iman Shumpert this season, Morey has added to Houston’s depth and perimeter defending. The addition of Kenneth Faried has also worked out better than anyone could imagine. Faried’s rebounding and high motor only adds on to what the Rockets are wanting to accomplish.

With a record of 34-25, good for fifth best in the west, Houston is not where they would like to be. The Rockets have had their share of ups and downs with injuries and tough losses this season. The bright spot has been their play against playoff contending teams– they’re currently tied for the most wins against teams that are .500 and above with 18. Their most recent win against the Warriors should give them the confidence boost that they need for the remainder of the season heading into playoffs.

About Aqib Gazi

Aqib was born and raised in the great city of Houston, TX. He grew up a Rockets fan and his favorite player growing up was Steve Francis. Aqib graduated from the University of Houston in 2017 and covers the Houston Rockets for TLSM.

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