HOUSTON — No regular-season sport means all that a lot for a few rivals that performed seven video games within the Western Convention finals final season.
So no one wished to leap to any grand conclusions after the Golden State Warriors held on for a 106-104 win Wednesday over the Houston Rockets, a group that has established itself over the previous two seasons because the two-time defending champions’ major challengers.
“We did not be taught nothing that we did not already know,” guard Chris Paul stated after the Rockets’ nine-game successful streak was snapped and any practical hope of catching the Warriors for the West’s prime seed was extinguished. “We accomplished performed them sufficient occasions the place they know us, and we all know them.”
There’s, nevertheless, a 6-foot-11, 270-pound wild card within the equation that wasn’t round for the West finals final yr. Nor was DeMarcus Cousins accessible for the Warriors’ first two conferences in opposition to the Rockets this season, whereas he was nonetheless recovering from the torn Achilles tendon that made it potential for Golden State so as to add an All-Star massive man for the taxpayer’s exception. And he was a legal responsibility within the Warriors’ Feb. 23 loss to the Rockets, a nonfactor offensively and picked on defensively.
DeMarcus Cousins scored 27 factors and had eight rebounds and seven assists in a efficiency he stated was probably the most in rhythm he has felt all season with Golden State.
Golden State is in first place within the Western Convention and nonetheless the favourite to win a 3rd consecutive NBA title. So why has this season been something however golden for the Warriors?
However the model of Cousins that confirmed as much as the Toyota Heart on Wednesday is able to altering the dynamic of a playoff collection, notably in opposition to the undersized Rockets. This was by far the perfect “Boogie” has been for the Warriors, setting season highs with 27 factors and 7 assists, repeatedly bullying the Rockets on the block.
In brief, Cousins was as dominant as he has been since earlier than his harm, which he suffered within the closing minute of a triple-double efficiency final January through which he helped the New Orleans Pelicans hand Houston its first loss when the Rockets’ star trio — Paul, James Harden and Clint Capela — was all wholesome.
“He simply performed in all probability probably the most full sport since he is been right here,” stated Klay Thompson, whose 30 factors included three layups and a Three-pointer off feeds from Cousins. “I imply, I used to be getting wide-open appears to be like from his passing potential. He provides an entire new dimension to our group.
“You noticed what he can do with us tonight.”
ESPN Stats and Data
When Cousins settled for a one-year cope with Golden State, plenty of of us figured he may very well be an answer to the Rockets’ switch-intensive defensive scheme that always baited the Warriors into counting on isolation as an alternative of their usually stunning ball motion. Good luck asking a guard to maintain Cousins from feasting within the paint.
However the Rockets have scrapped a lot of their switching resulting from totally different personnel. Cousins did nearly all of his harm Wednesday in opposition to Capela, however Houston’s heart did not appear too involved after the Warriors’ lone win over the Rockets this season.
“For us, he isn’t the primary focus as a result of we’re actually attempting to remove 3s and make them rating within the paint,” Capela stated. “So [he] did a very good job and I am not anxious about that.”
Nor was Houston coach Mike D’Antoni, saying, “Cousins will get what Cousins will get.” D’Antoni additionally talked about that bodily Rockets reserve heart Nene would hopefully have the ability to assist make it more durable for Cousins to dominate down low, which made the choice to relaxation Nene on Wednesday a bit curious.
“I do not assume anyone can cease me 1-on-1, interval,” stated Cousins, who was 11-of-16 from the sector. “You may put whoever you need on me, truthfully.”
Cousins clearly wasn’t a focus of the Rockets’ defensive sport plan even with Kevin Durant out due to a sprained proper ankle. For Cousins, that is form of the great thing about mixing in with a group that has arguably as a lot offensive firepower as any in NBA historical past.
Warriors with Cousins On/Off (Wed. vs. HOU)
OnOffOff. effectivity118.3109.4Def. effectivity104.9111.1Net effectivity+13.Four-1.7Pace91.999.5Source: NBA superior stats
The draw back to that: Cousins has typically been an offensive afterthought within the practically two months he has been taking part in for the Warriors, as they’ve struggled to seek out methods to characteristic the form of low-post weapon they’ve by no means had.
“We have all obtained to be taught — me, too,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr stated. “I’ve obtained to discover ways to use him higher. I believed we used him higher tonight. He did an exceptional job of simply getting down on the block and controlling the sport down there.”
Based on Second Spectrum, the Warriors obtained Cousins the ball on 18 post-ups, the second most by any participant throughout Kerr’s 5 seasons. He had 64 whole touches, creating 43 factors — the zero.67 factors created per contact was Cousins’ greatest in any sport over the previous two seasons.
The Warriors’ offense hummed utilizing Cousins as a hub with an offensive score of 118.Three in his 32 minutes. And Houston wasn’t capable of choose on Cousins on the opposite finish (104.9 defensive score), as he spent a lot of the night time hiding on PJ Tucker.
“Tonight was a very good step,” Warriors star Stephen Curry stated, talking particularly about Cousins. “It is clearly the common season and much more work to do, however I feel the way in which he performed the complete minutes he was on the market, you knew the place No. zero is always.”
And, not like when the Warriors final noticed the Rockets, you may envision Cousins being a power if the rivals meet once more in Could.