Every-Thing Sports

Jermaine Every: 5 keys to victory for the Rockets against the Warriors

This is a key series for Chris Paul and James Harden. Houston Rockets/Facebook

The Rockets and Warriors took care of business on Tuesday and will meet in the Western Conference Finals.

By finishing the regular season with the league’s best record, the Rockets have clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. In my honest opinion, home court doesn’t matter much when the opponent is as talented as the Warriors. They’ve been through the wars and proven capable of winning on the road. They even climbed out of a 1-3 deficit against the Thunder in Kevin Durant’s last year with Oklahoma City. He couldn’t beat ‘em, so he joined ‘em.

What will it take for the Rockets to topple the Warriors? Here are five keys:

1) Defense! Defense! Defense!

The Rockets defense improved greatly this season. Chris Paul, PJ Tucker, and Luc Mbah a Moute have been excellent additions on this end. Holdover Trevor Ariza no longer is looked upon as their best perimeter defender. Clint Capela raised his stock as a defender as well. He’s now a viable rim protector and solid rebounder. The Warriors won’t beat themselves unless…

2) Capitalize on turnovers

The Warriors will have uncharacteristic spells turning the ball over at an alarming rate. You would think a team with four All-Stars, great chemistry, and tremendous ball handlers wouldn’t be prone to this. They are averaging 16.7 turnovers per game. That’s seven more than the Rockets (9.7 for the mathematically precise). Every turnover must turn into Rockets points.

3) The Draymond Effect

Draymond Green recently admitted to purposely getting under opponents’ skin – a self-professed pain in the ass. The Rockets can’t let Green do his thing. They must ignore his shenanigans and tomfoolery. Vets like Paul and Tucker can help keep the Rockets stay focused when Green tries to sucker them into doing somethin’ stupid. Things like that can sway a game, which can swing a series.

4) 40 Percent-plus From Three

The Rockets are averaging 36.2 percent from 3-point land in these playoffs. You can look it up, the Rockets win when they shoot better than 40-percent beyond the arc and hold their opponent below 30-percent. No doubt the Warriors have more prolific scorers, but the Rockets love to spread the wealth when it comes to shooting from long range.

5) Eric Gordon Must Outperform Klay Thompson

No one is disputing that Thompson is a dynamic offensive threat. He can lead the Warriors in scoring any given game. However, Eric Gordon is a Sixth Man of the Year award winner. He can be a deadeye scorer when he’s hot, an albatross when he’s not. If Gordon can outperform Thompson in offensive production, and contribute on the defensive end, the Rockets stand a good chance of getting past Golden State.

The Warriors have championship pedigree, star power, and firepower to overcome just about any obstacle thrown their way. However, there are a couple below-radar factors that will determine this series’ winner. One is health. The Rockets have been relatively healthy all year, while the Warriors have battled through injuries to key players. Another is home-court advantage. Joel Blank laid out his challenge for Rockets fans to arrive early and get loud. We know that Oracle Arena in Oakland is a hostile environment. Let’s turn Toyota Center into a house of horrors for the Warriors.

 

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Martin Truex Jr. won his 2nd race of the season last week. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

NASCAR returns to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. This is the first of two races here at this track as they will race on Sunday afternoon. This will be different from the normal night race they usually have here as this will definitely affect the racing surface considering how much the sun could make the track slick. It should be a fun race come Sunday.

Last week, Martin Truex Jr. passed Denny Hamlin to capture his second win of the season after rain moved the race to Sunday. He became the first driver to win multiple races after a fierce battle with his teammate Denny Hamlin. The race was filled with tons of wrecks including a fifteen car pileup including Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. It was one of the better races of the season as there was lots of beating and banging.

The race was not without controversy but not the kind you would expect. Early in the race Rick Ware Racing teammates Cody Ware and James Davison were involved in an altercation. The two were battling towards the back of the pack when Ware decided to drive through his teammate in turn four. The race got much worse for Cody Ware as he was involved in three more cautions all throughout the race. Many people around the sport were quite perturbed by his antics including broadcaster Mike Joy as he was audibly annoyed after Ware spun out later in the race. Many have questioned if the fifth-year driver should even be in the car and overall I can understand why some of those people think that. In his five years of driving, he has finished on the lead lap one time. I hope that he is able to figure it out and find success in the future, but this was not a good look.

The slump continues for two-time champion Kyle Busch

Throughout the race, Busch was running okay for the most part but towards the closing laps of the race he and Chris Buescher got together triggering a fifteen car pileup. Despite all this, he was able to rebound to a respectable tenth place finish. This has been more than likely the toughest stretch of his career since his championship in 2019. Many would say that the omission of Practice and Qualifying has really affected his performance. Whatever the issue is, this team really needs to find some speed, or he could be in danger of missing the playoffs. I look for this team to bounce back considering how talented he is.

Prediction

The driver that I have winning this week is Kyle Larson. This has been an incredible rebound season for Larson as he currently sits fourth in points. He is also second in laps led only to Denny Hamlin. Richmond has been a great track for him as it fits his driving style perfectly as he can run the outside line and find grip where others can't. This track is also rather sentimental to him considering he won his first pole award here during his rookie season in 2014. While he may not have the results he would want he has always been extremely fast here and even won back in 2017. I look for him to capture his second victory of 2021 come Sunday.

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