Golden State Warriors prepare for dangerous, giant-killing Rockets in Houston

The Golden State Warriors will enter as heavy favourites when they face the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center on Monday, yet it may present as a tougher challenge than many expect given the stature of both teams.

The defending champions still consider themselves title contenders despite a disappointing 36-36 record, while the lowly 18-53 Rockets are firmly in contention to acquire Victor Wembanyama should the lottery go their way.

The Houston Rockets have proved themselves a nuisance recently as the Golden State Warriors seek to arrest their road woes.

Houston have had their best stretch of the season before Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, winning three-straight games against teams battling for playoff position. They earned a hard-fought 111-109 victory over the all-conquering Boston Celtics, then backed that up with wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans. Talented guard Jalen Green, the number two overall pick in 2021, was a key contributor in the winning streak with 28 and 25-point displays.

Jalen Green drives past Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole at Chase Center earlier this season. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Warriors, on the other hand, are trying to snap a disastrous 11-game road losing streak, having lost the first three of a five-game road-trip. Golden State are teetering on the edge of the playoff picture, with just 1.5 games between them in seventh and the Pelicans in 12th.

Fortunately there’s no surprises on the injury report for the visitors. Andrew Wiggins, Gary Payton II, Andre Iguodala and Ryan Rollins are all listed out as expected, while Kevon Looney is questionable with continued back soreness. The starting big man also popped up on the injury report before Saturday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, but eventually played 20 minutes in the 133-119 loss.

History is on the Warriors’ side having won nine in a row against the Rockets over the last three seasons. They won the previous two comfortably at Chase Center, though the teams’ first matchup this season saw Golden State have to work hard for a 127-120 win in Houston.

The major focus will again be on the Warrior defense — currently the third-worst in the league on the road. With the likes of Green, Alperun Sengun, Jabari Smith Jr and Kevin Porter Jr, Houston have enough offensive talent to make things incredibly difficult if Golden State continue to be off their game.