Welcome back Don Nelson! The Warriors’ capo is returning to the bench tonight after his bout with pneumonia.
The Warriors are +2 home dogs against Houston tonight. The Warriors lost by 1 to Houston at home in a heartbreaker on opening night, but they will not be taking the floor with the same team tonight. How about no Biedrins, no Randolph, no Jackson, no Azubuike, and possibly no Turiaf? In their place, Vlad Rad and Chris Hunter. And maybe Devean George. In the Warriors favor, the Rockets are playing the back end of a back-to-back (they demolished the Gordon-less Clippers last night in LA).
It’s next to impossible to handicap this game with so much flux in the Warriors’ lineup. Obviously, the Warriors are going to have a much tougher time matching up with the Rockets’ front line of Scola, Hayes and Landry than they did on opening night. In fact, if Turiaf is out, Nelson might be better off not trying to match up with them at all. How about a lineup with Vlad Rad at starting center, and Maggette at power forward? That would at least force Houston to struggle to match up with us, as well. Vlad Rad at the three point line might very well pull Hayes out of the game.
Once again I am faced with a conundrum regarding who Monta Ellis will guard. We know now that it will be the other team’s best player, regardless of position. But is Trevor Ariza the Rockets’ go-to guy, or is it the lightning bugs Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry at the point? Whichever of these players does not find himself guarded by Monta is likely to have a big game going against Anthony Morrow and Stephen Curry.
Another thought that has crossed my mind is whether Nellie will move CJ Watson, who has been playing well, into the starting lineup, and move Stephen Curry, who has not, into the sixth man role. As you may recall, that was Feltbot’s Prescription, although then it was Kelenna Azubuike who I thought should be in the starting lineup. Similar arguments can be made in favor of CJ Watson: he’s a better defender than Curry, and he’s far more comfortable asserting himself while playing next to Monta Ellis. As for Curry, he might find it easier to get into a comfort zone as the leader of the second unit off the bench.
Monta Ellis had a big game against the Rockets on opening night (10-20, 26 pts.), before the Stephen Jackson trade, and before the all-star transformation we’ve witnessed in the past two weeks. Unless the Rockets try a Nuggets-style trap, he should have little difficulty getting to the rim against the Rockets’ small front line. The Warriors will need another monster game from Monta, and a healthy dose of Nellie match-up magic, to pull off this win.