Programming note: Watch "Warriors Playoff Central" tonight at 5 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area Plus, and immediately after the final horn in Game 3. Both shows will be streamed live right here. CHANNEL LISTINGS
HOUSTON – Focus not on that six-hour flight delay out of Oakland that didn’t put them in Houston until 10 p.m. Friday, the Warriors ask, but acknowledge instead that they were the NBA’s best road team.
That’s what they’ll try to remind everyone of on Saturday night when they enter Toyota Center for Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals against the Rockets.
Though the Warriors are up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series, Houston did cover the spread in both games at Oracle Arena and believes it should have won both games. The Rockets are encouraged by their work in holding the Warriors to 99 points – 63 over the final three quarters – despite losing Game 2.
Then there is this: Houston has not lost three in a row all season.
The Warriors in the regular season were 28-13 on the road and are 4-1 on the road through the first two rounds of the postseason.
Rockets by 1.5.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Klay Thompson vs. James Harden: Harden has been Houston’s most potent scorer all season and nothing has changed in this series. He’s hot, and Thompson has had little success cooling him. Thompson likely will get occasional breaks from the assignment, but he also wants to score enough to help offset Harden’s output.
Andrew Bogut vs. Dwight Howard: Howard has been a factor but not a force. Bogut was invisible in Game 1 but a force in Game 2. Howard says he’s tender knee is much better, in which case Bogut’s primary job will be to keep him from owning the glass and throwing down easy lobs.
Stephen Curry vs. Jason Terry and The Others: The Rockets have tried a wave of defenders – Pablo Prigioni, Corey Brewer, Terrence Jones and Terry – but Curry still have been effective. With their best perimeter defender, Patrick Beverley, out, they’re running out of options.
KEYS TO VICTORY:
1) Quiet whistles: Draymond Green and Bogut, in particular, have to protect the paint without getting whistles. Rebounding and defense are compromised if either gets into foul trouble.
2) Respect the rock: Nearly 25 percent of Houston’s points in Game 2 were generated off Warriors turnovers. That’s a dangerous game anywhere but especially on the road.
3) Heavy D: Few things silence an opposing arena faster than a few minutes of stifling defense. The Warriors are capable of that and almost certainly will need it.
“Make him take tough shots. Force him to drive to the basket instead of letting him get step-back threes and opportunities at clean looks at threes.” – Rockets center Howard on team defense against Curry
Warriors: F Marreese Speights (strained right calf) is listed as out.
Rockets: C Dwight Howard (left knee sprain) and F KJ McDaniels (elbow fracture) are listed as probable. G Patrick Beverley (wrist surgery) and F Donatas Motiejunas (back surgery) are listed as out.
The Warriors hold a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, the first postseason meeting between the teams. Insofar as the Warriors won all four regular season games, each by a double-digit margin, they are 6-0 against Rockets this season.