Viewers' Guide: Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets meet on NBA TV
Kevin Cottrell Jr., Special to NBA.com
Warriors vs. Rockets (8 p.m. ET, NBA TV)
The Golden State Warriors enter Tuesday’s Fan Night game sporting a seven-game win streak, the longest current run in the NBA. The Houston Rockets aren’t exactly slumping, though, as they’ve won four straight games. Although this game’s greatest importance may lie in how it affects the Warriors’ playoff seeding, it’s the Rockets who will look to send the message in a potential Western Conference finals preview.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
The Warriors have three road games left this season, but the next two may be the most pivotal. Golden State holds a two-game lead over the San Antonio Spurs for No. 1 in the Western Conference, but they face the Spurs tomorrow (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). Prior to visiting the Spurs, the Warriors will have to solve the Rockets’ potent offense. Houston has won five straight home games, all while scoring a whopping 127.0 ppg in that span. While road games can be a challenge, the Warriors are a confident (and successful) bunch of late away from home. In fact, Golden State (28-10 on the road this season) is the first team in NBA history to log 28 or more road wins in three straight seasons.
Admittedly, “BEARD-V-P” needs work … but James Harden’s game this season has been near flawless. The reigning two-time MVP, Stephen Curry, recently endorsed Harden — the NBA’s second-leading scorer (29.4 ppg) and leading assist man (11.3 apg) — as his pick for MVP. Harden’s scoring is a given, but it is his ability to create for others is what makes this team so tough to beat. James is a walking triple-double and recorded one of his 19 triple-doubles this season on Dec. 1 at Oracle Arena. Notching his 20th triple-double in a win tonight would further prove why Curry is backing Harden for MVP.
This season, Stephen Curry has both adjusted to the arrival of Kevin Durant … and to his departure (due to injury). During Golden State’s win streak, Curry is averaging 24.3 ppg, 8.0 apg and shooting 45.8 percent on 3-pointers (and is a perfect 23-for-23 on free throws, too). After a very sluggish start in Durant’s absence, Curry and company are 9-4. If the Warriors plan to continue their winning ways, ball movement remains key — a fact backed up but Golden State’s 44-1 record this season when dishing out 30 or more assists.
UNLIMITED LONG DISTANCE
Fans of 3-point shooting will be in awe of this matchup. The Rockets and Warriors are not only two of the best 3-point shooting teams this season, but two of the best ever. The Rockets are just eight 3-pointers shy of surpassing the 2015-16 Warriors for the most 3-pointers made in a season. While both teams rank in the top three of all major 3-point shooting categories, the top four individual shooters will also be featured in this game. Curry leads the league with 282 3-pointers, followed by teammate Klay Thompson (238) and the Rockets’ Harden (235) and Eric Gordon (226).
Most 3PM in a Single Season (Team)
1077 (Golden State Warriors, 2015-16)
1,070 (Houston Rockets, 2016-17)
933 (Houston Rockets, 2014-15)
THE ROAD AHEAD
Since the start of the 2014-15 season, the Warriors are 16-3 against the Rockets in regular and postseason play. Houston is a virtual lock for the West’s No. 3 seed, but the Warriors hold a slim lead for the West’s top seed. The two teams will meet twice in a four-day span, with their next matchup (after tonight) coming on March 31 in Oakland (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).