Durant-less Warriors End Rockets’ Nine-Game Win Streak

Houston’s nine-game win streak came to an end on Wednesday in a 106-104 loss to the Golden State Warriors. It was the Rockets’ first loss to the Warriors this season. While Houston won the season series from the Warriors, Demarcus Cousins found his rhythm, having his best game as a Warrior. If the Warriors can have everyone healthy in the playoffs, there is potential for an epic postseason showdown with the Rockets.

Assessing the Season Series

Sure, it was just one loss, and the Rockets didn’t play their best game. Knowing the Warriors were without Durant, and with the momentum of the Rockets’ winning streak, Houston really needed last night’s game as another jab in Golden State’s psyche.

Instead Houston didn’t come out with a lot of energy to start the game. Maybe Durant not being on the floor drained a little intensity from Houston. Regardless, Houston shot only 27% from three, and were out-rebounded 48-40 by the Warriors Of course, being out-rebounded is nothing new to the Rockets, as they are 29th in the NBA in defensive rebounding; only the Suns are worse. If the Rockets are going to make noise in the playoffs, they need to be better on the boards — especially against the Warriors, should these two meet again in the postseason.

In no way does a season series define what could happen if the same two teams meet down the road in the playoffs. While I don’t believe Golden State would lose a seven-game series to the Rockets, if healthy, the Rockets could be Golden State’s biggest thorn.

In fact, the season series has been pretty close statistically, and aside from the first meeting on Nov. 15, each game has been decided by six points or less:

This loss spotlights a couple of things Houston needs to watch. First is their ability to knock down three-point shots. Houston only shot 27% from three, but in their three wins, the Rockets managed to shoot 40% from distance. If Houston’s threes are going in, they can make things interesting; if not, they are in trouble.

Another thing to keep an eye on is Demarcus Cousins. Cousins had his best game as a Warrior and is starting to regain form. Come playoff time, if these two teams meet again, the Rockets are going to have to do everything they can to make Cousins a near non-factor. If Cousins is at his best, the Rockets may not be able to make adjustments as much as they like to, as they will have to try to contain the Warriors big man. This game showed that when Cousins is hot, the spacing on the floor for the Warriors becomes more open. Mix in a healthy Durant and the Splash Brothers, and Houston will have a migraine from trying to figure what threat to neutralize.

Final Word

As disappointing as it was for Houston to see the Rockets streak end, the Rockets have proved that they have the capability to compete on the Warriors’ level. Houston has 14 games remaining, and if they can remain healthy as well as fix their rebounding woes, the sky is the limit for them. As unbeatable as I have perceived the Warriors to be all season, Houston isn’t intimidated, and if they face each other again in the postseason at full strength, get your popcorn ready; the West is about to get interesting.

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