Houston Center disappeared in Game 1 after saying he wanted the Warriors

Capela Needs to be Big for Rockets to have a chance

Clint Capela. Getty Images

Clint Capela Jason Miller

Clint Capela wanted to meet up with the Warriors in the playoffs this year. He said as much when he spoke to the media after the Rockets eliminated the Utah Jazz. He also was the one who said that the Rockets were the better team after Golden State eliminated Houston in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals last season. You have to love the confidence the young center has in his team, but with that boastful and cocky attitude must come performances that back it up, or at least contribute to his team's success.

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You most certainly wouldn't want to be a -17 while on the floor with only 4 points and 6 rebounds in 27 minutes on the floor, while the combination of Andrew Bogut and Kevon Looney combined for 2 more points and the same amount of rebounds in 6 fewer minutes of game time.

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Clint Capela needs to dominate down low if the Rockets have any chance of making this a long series, let alone winning it. When you compare these two teams that know each other so well and look at matchups where Houston should have an advantage, you immediately point at the center position. Golden State lost their all-star big man in the first round against the Clippers when DeMarcus Cousins went down with a serious quad injury. He was a force down low for the defending champions, and once he recovered from his torn Achilles tendon suffered last season, he was the dominating post presence that the Warriors lacked and gave them an element that they hadn't before had in the "Splash Brothers" era. In his last appearance against Capela and the Rockets in the final meeting between the two teams in the regular season, Cousins could not be stopped and was their go-to guy down the stretch as he put Capela on skates and scored multiple key baskets in the paint to close out the Golden State victory. He finished that game with 27 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists in 32 minutes of action, while Capela had 13 points and 13 rebounds in 40 minutes on the floor. It's pretty simple when you look at that matchup in this series, with Cousins out, Capela should be able to dominate the paint defensively and clean the glass, while running the floor for easy baskets in transition against the slower and less skilled Golden State reserve bigs. After one game, that was obviously not the case.

Rockets Clint Capela Houston Rockets/Facebook

We all know that Clint Capela is not an offensive powerhouse who gets his numbers scoring down low with a plethora of moves in the paint. The good news is he doesn't need to be with the system and team he has around him. Capela is at his best when he gets involved in pick and roll basketball with James Harden and Chris Paul that leads to lobs at the rim and dunks in the lane. He is an elite athlete at his size so when he gets out in transition there are not many big men in the NBA that can keep up with him. Most importantly he is an above average defender that has length and size to alter shots around the basket, he can defend on the low block and he rebounds at a high level even when the game is played at a very fast pace. We have all seen the numbers by now and know that when he is on the floor doing those things and playing alongside Harden and Paul, the Rockets are a championship caliber basketball team. When he doesn't, they may not be good enough to get out of the second round let alone beat the Golden State Warriors.

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Houston's bats have a hot night

Astros clobber Rangers to win series opener

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

After dropping two of three in Seattle, the Astros entered the regular season's final series still waiting to clinch their playoff berth. Luckily their matchup favored them, with four games against the 19-37 Rangers, which they have done well against in recent years. Here are highlights from the opener:

Final Score: Astros 12, Rangers 4.

Record: 29-28, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Cristian Javier (5-2, 3.48 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Lance Lynn (6-3, 3.32 ERA).

Astros put up 10 on Lynn 

Houston had no trouble getting acquainted with the Rangers' new stadium, jumping out to an early lead in the top of the first inning. After a lengthy at-bat against Lance Lynn, Jose Altuve reached on a one-out single, then scored from first on a two-out RBI-triple by Alex Bregman. They'd double their lead in the next at-bat on an error, making it 2-0.

They extended that lead even more in the next inning, getting back-to-back singles to start the inning to set up a big three-run dinger by George Springer to straightaway center-field to make it 5-0. Bregman added two more RBI to his night in the top of the fifth, capitalizing on a leadoff single by Michael Brantley by hitting a two-run homer to make it a 7-0 lead. Altuve would push the total to double-digits in the top of the sixth, lifting a three-run home run of his own to make it a 10- lead.

Javier with a decent start, bullpen closes out the win

Meanwhile, Cristian Javier was doing well on the mound against the Rangers. He allowed just three baserunners through the first five innings, a double in the first, a hit batter in the second, and a single in the fifth. He would falter a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff single then a two-run homer, then later in the inning a sac fly, making it 10-3 before Houston would turn to their bullpen. Javier's final line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 95 TP.

Luis Garcia would get the final out of the sixth then returned for the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff double that would score on a two-out RBI-double, making it a six-run game before Garcia finished the frame. Brooks Raley was the next reliever and notched two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth.

Josh Reddick gave Houston two more insurance runs, joining the home run barrage with a two-run homer in the top of the inning to make it 12-4 going to the bottom half. Brandon Bielak was given a low-leverage opportunity to throw in the bottom of the ninth. He erased a two-out double for a scoreless inning to wrap up the lopsided win, lowering Houston's magic number to 1.

Up Next: The second game of this four-game set between Houston and Texas will start Friday at 7:05 PM Central at Globe Life Field. The pitching battle will be Kyle Cody (1-1, 1.53 ERA) for the Rangers and Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.78 ERA) for the Astros.

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