In what will be the third of four games played between the two teams this season, the Warriors (35-27) will be in search of their first win over the Rockets (33-29) on Friday night. In a tight Western Conference race, the Warriors and Rockets find themselves sixth and seventh respectively, and are separated by just two games.
Back on February 5, the Rockets embarrassed the Warriors in Houston, tying an NBA record by hitting 23 3-pointers in route to a 140-109 victory.
The game got ugly as Warriors coach Mark Jackson had his mind set on not allowing Houston to break the record and had his team intentionally foul beyond the arc down the stretch.
Late in the 4th quarter, a flagrant foul was handed out to Warriors forward Draymond Green for his attempt to stop Rockets guard Patrick Beverley from shooting another 3-pointer. Words were exchanged between both teams, and it left a sour taste in the mouths of both clubs.
Just one week later, Golden State tried to get their revenge at home but fell short 116-107 in what was another disappointing loss. Friday, they will seek out to get revenge yet again and show the Rockets that they are a playoff contender.
The Warriors, who are off to a 2-0 homestand, are up for the challenge. Although they are not currently playing the best basketball of the season, they are playing with urgency late in games. They are grinding out wins even with bad shooting nights and early lackluster execution.
It has been 5 years since there was talk of playoffs this late in the season around Oracle Arena. This team understands that. They also understand that they need make Oracle Arena a place that opponents don’t want to visit — especially other playoff opponents. That’s why this is a must-win game.
Golden State has had a tough time defending from beyond the arc this season. The Rockets’ back court duo of James Harden and Jeremy Lin both like to shoot a lot of threes, but if you let them, they can also live at the free throw line. Golden State needs to force them to settle for mid-range jump shots.
If the Warriors backcourt can put pressure on the Harden/Lin combo and force the Rockets role players to step up, then Warriors will be in good shape. But this is much easier said than done.
Offensively, it is time for the Warriors big man Andrew Bogut to score some points. He has yet to show much on the offensive end throughout an entire game. Warriors fans are beginning to grow impatient, and are now questioning whether or not the W’s are better off without him. One big game could put that talk to rest.
With playoff implications on the line, Friday night is a must win for Golden State.
You can follow Rich Peters on twitter @Tricky_Roma.