Game Thread: Iguodala to rest against Rockets
Another easy win... assuming Golden State can handle business
The Golden State Warriors are off to an extremely strong start, handling business against playoff teams from Los Angeles, as well as a select group of the league’s rebuilding elements. This evening, it’s more of the latter, as they welcome the young Houston Rockets to Chase Center on the front end of a back-to-back.
As Daniel Hardee wrote yesterday the Warriors are in the midst of navigating the tricky trapeze act of staying in contention while losing a superstar (Kevin Durant) and waiting for a franchise cornerstone (Klay Thompson) to come back from a pair of significant injuries.
The Houston Rockets franchise has not been so lucky. Stripped down to the roots after James Harden forced his way out by wearing a fat suit to practice, they’ve got plenty of young talent, but it’s tough to win in the NBA with a bunch of 19-year olds as your main guys.
On the injury front, Andre Iguodala is old, but otherwise okay:
WHO: Golden State Warriors (7-1) vs. Houston Rockets (1-8)
WHEN: Sunday, November 7th, 2021 // 5:30 pm
Houston has some problems
While the team has a promising young core of big men in Christian Wood and Alperen Sengun, the Rockets team is having some issues so far this season. The offense is the biggest problem, ranking all the way down as the third worst. According to Basketball Reference, the Rockets have turned it over an average of 20 times per game, which makes them the most generous offense in the league, and an extremely worrisome trend when facing a stout Warriors defense.
Against a Golden State team with some of the busiest hands in the NBA (9.6 steals per game, which is the 5th most), and a stifling defense (ranked #1), it is unlikely that tonight is the game that the Rockets figure out their offense.
Defensively, there’s plenty to work on as well. Traditionally, it is expected that most big men will take a little bit longer to get used to the NBA, and for the Rockets young, promising frontcourt, it’s very much a work in progress.
Without Iguodala, the Warriors will be looking to fill a hefty load of bench minutes tonight. After blowing out the Thunder though, it’s fair to wonder if this game will get blown wide open enough for rookie Jonathan Kuminga to make an appearance.
A key part of the team’s “bridge to the future" Kuminga has looked like he can play. When he's playing like this, it isn't too hard to see the outlines of that bridge.
Here’s another look, this time featuring some nice offense. Not forced, but as the closing play in a set that couldn’t get much traction.
Kuminga has been getting some run in the G League, and though his game wasn’t especially great (4-13 with 6 rebounds 4 assists , 5 turnovers and 5 foul), you don’t have to squint your eyes too hard to see the potential:
The young, but impressive Rockets' frontcourt will show flashes of being difficult to cover, but will eventually fall prey to the Warriors' frenetic, pass-happy offense. As long as Golden State can force turnovers and rebound well as a team, this should be easy sailing.
Sure, the Warriors have had one of the very easiest schedules in the league so far, but as the Lakers are demonstrating, it’s all too easy to not handle business. So far so good for the Warriors, but nothing is a given in this league.