The Warriors are in Houston tonight. The Rockets have struggled badly after a hot start to the season. They are 4-6 in January, and have lost 4 out of 5 games on their current home stand. Their problem has been putting the ball in the hole. With Trevor Ariza and Shane Battier at the two and three, the Rockets are perhaps the only team in the league that doesn’t have a natural scorer at either of the wing positions. Their effort to make Ariza into a go-to guy has been a failure: He is shooting a miserable 38% from the floor, taking 15 shots a game, and 30% from three, taking 6 a game.
Nevertheless, the injury-riddled Warriors will be hard-pressed to win this game. It begins with Monta Ellis. He has been largely missing in action since his return from injury. He needs to be the star of the game for the Warriors to have a chance.
Andris Biedrins got eaten alive by the 6-6″ Chuck Hayes and the Rockets active front line in the first meeting of these teams. That was before his injury, when he was completely healthy. Or was he? Biedrins needs to show up before the fourth quarter in this game, which he has been unable to do as of late.
Anthony Tolliver will also have his hands full with Luis Scola and Carl Landry. This is a matchup to watch, as the Warriors are very thin behind Tolliver. Maggette got a hip-pointer in the last game, and is a game-time decision. As for Vlad Rad, Nellie might be better served simply giving him a dirty look while he’s seated on the bench, and spare us the two minutes of wretched court time.
Aaron Brooks is the jitter-bug that makes the Rockets go. The Warriors had no answer for him down the stretch in the last meeting. We’ll get a chance to see whether Stephen Curry has picked up a few tricks to keep Brooks in front of him.
The Rockets are -7 home favorites. The Warriors are in a tailspin. Ankles and hip-pointers and Achilles tendons and bad backs and D-leaguers and all-star rejections and trade deadline rumors are flying out the windows. Will the pilot be able to pull up before impact in the Texas Triangle? You tell me.