Houston at Golden State
Time: 4 PM CST
Spread: HOU -11
Odds c/o 5dimes
HOUSTON NEWS & NOTES:
The Houston Rockets have won six of its last seven to arrive at 21-9 and the No. 3 spot in the West thus far.
Superstar guard James Harden is averaging a silly 38.6 points per game on the season with 7.4 assists to his credit as well. He is connecting on 36 percent of his threes and 45 percent of his field goals while turning it over an “almost excusable” 4.8 times per game. It is excusable simply because Harden produces so much that it is a mere corollary of the ball being in his hands most of the time.
Westbrook has fared well as a Rocket, though. He is shooting 43 percent from the floor while posting per-game averages of 23.9 points, 8 rebounds, 7.2 assists, and 2.0 blocks/steals in 35 minutes a night. The Rockets thus far appear to have great chemistry, which was something that was both developed quickly and unexpected by many naysayers and pundits who mostly felt that Harden and Westbrook would be unable to share the ball well together. Due to the fact that both rely on having the ball in their hands to create offense, it remains to be seen how long and how well this pairing of Westbrook and Harden works.
The pair once was together in OKC, but neither is used to the role they respectively played during that time. Westbrook has averaged eight assists per game over the last two, and his minutes seem to be locked in at 33 to 35 per game, which should take some of the load off of it, in the name of the ever-present “load management.”
The Rockets have also got more offense out of center Clint Capela this season. He is averaging 13.8 points, 14 rebounds and 2.9 blocks/steals per game. PJ Tucker has seen his role offensively increase, and he is taking advantage, averaging 9.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Eric Gordon has seen his role change with Westbrook aboard, and he is not doing as much as he had in the past two seasons, either.
But then again, this is a Houston team that averages 120.2 points per game, so perhaps asking for more offense from any player at this point resembles nothing but greed.
GOLDEN ST NEWS & NOTES:
The Golden State Warriors are just 7-24 on the season and in the last place in the Pacific division. It is, thus far, the worst team in the entire Association, in fact.
This is an unfamiliar territory from a team that had boasted four All-Stars a season ago. Out is Kevin Durant, who signed with the Brooklyn Nets, while the Warriors are also without sharpshooter Klay Thompson. D’Angelo Russell is a dynamite scorer, but the Warriors are also without Stephen Curry for a long period this season due to an injured wrist. Draymond Green returned from injury last game, but he is the only one of the Warriors top-4 players from a year ago to suit up at this point.
For as good as Russell has been, it has not been enough to carry the Dubs to victories. He is averaging 21.8 points, four rebounds and 6.2 assists per game, but he has had efficiency issues (evidenced by his 18.29 PER). The next on the list of active scorers though is rookie and second-round pick Eric Paschall. He has been impressive, almost like a more offensive (and of course less defensive), Draymond Green. Paschall is averaging 15.9 points, five rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game.
Former Utah Jazz swingman Alec Burks should add some more scoring, but the Warriors’ issues have been mostly on the defensive end. Golden State scores just 104 per game. So, with a patched-up roster consisting of a lot of rookies, young talent, discarded reclamation projects (like Willie Cauley-Stein), the Warriors are simply not a team that stacks up to most of the other teams in the Association anymore.