The Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz will play tomorrow evening to determine who gets to play the Warriors. Let’s break down the potential matchups. Look for the Jazz Edition later today.
During the regular season, the Warriors took two out of three from the Rockets.
- December 5 @ Houston: Houston 118, GS 90. The game was never close as the Rockets killed the Warriors, who were coming off a back-to-back on the road (they just lost to San Antonio the night before). T-Mac scored 13 of his 31 points in the third quarter. Yao added 27 and 8. Juwan Howard and Chuck Hayes dominated the boards, grabbing 15 and 11, respectively.
More after the jump …
- December 14 @ home: GS 109, Houston 107. Baron Davis (34 points) hit a three at the buzzer to win the game. Yao dominated though, scored 38 points and snagging 18 rebounds. Note: McGrady did not play.
- April 4 @ Houston: GS 110, Houston 99. This game took place at the beginning of the Warriors’ current hot streak, when they finally had all their parts in place. Jason Richardson and Luther Head both hit seven three-pointers. The Warriors held Yao (9 pts, 11 rebounds) to one of his worst games of the year, running him out of the game with a fast-paced game. Note: McGrady left after seven minutes with an injury.
The Warriors and Rockets are complete opposites in style, even more so than Dallas. The difference, however, is that the Rockets’ big men (Yao, Hayes, Howard, even Battier) will punish teams on the boards much more so than Diop and Dirk.
Some cause for Warrior worry: the rebound differential. Here are the rebounding differences for the three games this year, all in Houston’s favor: 53-33, 52-35 and 49-35. That’s a total of154 to 103. And that was when Nellie was playing his big men. But then again, Yao’s postseason is not going very well.
All in all, considering that in one meeting, the Warriors were coming off a back-to-back and got ambushed 35-20 in the first quarter, and then T-Mac missed the next two, the season series doesn’t tell us much.
Our thoughts: if the W’s can run Yao out of the game, then (a healthy) Baron can punish Rafer Alston. Jackson can D up T-Mac like he did Dirk. The Rockets do fall in love with the three-pointer as well, which in a Warriors-paced game, can be beneficial to Nellie’s squad.