Programming note: Watch "Warriors Playoff Central" tonight at 5 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, and immediately after the final horn in Game 2. Both shows will be streamed live right here. CHANNEL LISTINGS
OAKLAND – Though the Warriors typically don’t hold a morning shootaround for games that tip off at 6 p.m, they did so on Thursday, ahead of Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Thursday night.
Maybe it’s an attempt to avoid the early-game lethargy displayed in Game 1, when the Warriors fell behind 49-33 only 17 minutes into the game at Oracle Arena.
They came back with a vengeance to post a 110-106 win, but a comeback was necessary – and not for the first time. The Warriors are 9-2 this postseason but Game 1 was the fourth time they have trailed by at least 10 points in the first half.
The players, who had a pregame walk-through ahead of Game 1, seem to like the move back to the morning shootaround at the team’s downtown facility.
“I like the shootaround,” Klay Thompson said. “I just figure it forces you to get up and get active. You won’t be sluggish come 6 o’clock.”
Though Rockets center Dwight Howard could miss the game with a bruised knee, the Warriors insist Howard’s availability will not affect their game plan.
Warriors by 10.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Klay Thompson vs. James Harden: Harden is among the five best offensive players in the league. When he’s on, as seen late in Game 1, he’s great enough to beat solid one-on-one defense. Thompson shot only 6-of-18 in Game 1 but is capable of offsetting Harden’s offense. If he does in Game 2, the Rockets are in deep, deep trouble.
Stephen Curry vs. Jason Terry/Pablo Prigioni: Curry generally had his way against all guards in Game 1, as only rangy forward Trevor Ariza posed a bit of a challenge. Houston will continue to mix defenders, but Ariza could get a few more chances. If that happens, look for Curry to make plays through Harrison Barnes and Thompson.
Andrew Bogut vs. Dwight Howard/Clint Capela: Bogut admitted he played “horribly” in Game 1, mostly against Howard. Though Houston coach Kevin McHale has options if Howard is unable to play, he turned to Capela in Game 1. Bogut should relish the opportunity to teach the youngster some lessons.
KEYS TO VICTORY
1) Heavy D: The Warriors have won four consecutive playoff games by intensifying their defense. If they keep that in mind throughout, the streak should move to five.
2) Splash ‘Em: Warriors not named Curry missed 14 of 18 3-point shots, despite lots of open looks, in Game 1. The same opportunities will be there again in Game 2.
3) Unleash the hounds: If things feel the least bit stagnant, the Warriors will go small, thereby unleashing the relentless defense that steals the composure of most teams.
Warriors: F Marreese Speights (strained right calf) is listed as out.
Rockets: C Dwight Howard (bruised left knee) will play and F KJ McDaniels (right elbow fracture) is listed as questionable. G Patrick Beverley (left wrist surgery) and F Donatas Motiejunas (back surgery) are listed as out.
The Warriors hold a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, the first postseason meeting between the teams. The Warriors won all four regular season games, each by a double-digit margin.