The Warriors are huge -6.5 point favorites in their home opener against the Rockets. Can this line be right? I don’t think it shows enough respect to the Rockets. They are, after all, a proud team, a team that knows how to win, and knows how to win in the playoffs. They also know how to win without Yao. Didn’t they go on a 10 or more game run without him last year? They have an indescribable chemistry that comes from having a lineup full of competitors, like Scola and Hayes and Landry and Battier and now Ariza.
They also match up well with the Warriors. The Warriors will not be able to punish the Rockets’ undersized front-line. And they present us with a serious match-up problem in the shape of 6-7″ off-guard Trevor Ariza. The scoring-challenged Rockets are determined to make a star out of their off-season acquisition, and will be feeding him the ball. Especially if he’s being guarded by the 6’3″ Stephen Curry.
I would look for Crazy Nellie to cross-match here. Put Jackson on Ariza and Curry on the much larger Shane Battier. This will force the Rockets to make Battier a scorer, a role he may not be comfortable in.
The Ariza match-up is of equal concern on the other end of the court. Ariza is a great athlete and great defender, with a Pippen-like ability to guard everyone on the floor, including point-guards. Will he be on Monta or Curry? I would expect the Rockets to put the super-quick Brooks in front of Monta, and Ariza on Curry, where Ariza can look to to put a choke-hold on our young and innocent, small and fluffy point-guard. This will be quite an opening test for young Mr. Curry.