Golden State Warriors: Response to Rockets’ Physical Play

The Golden State Warriors pulled off a 4-0 regular season sweep of the Houston Rockets with last night’s 126-113 win. The Warriors dominated the Rockets in last night’s physical battle. Words were exchanged before and during the game, and it appears as if there’s some bad blood between the Warriors and the Rockets.

Sorry James Harden, but he’s the one that started this. In the Rockets’ pregame huddle, Harden was overheard saying that the Warriors “aren’t even that good.” This is laughable considering that the Warriors’ 34-6 record is better than the Rockets’ less impressive 29-14 record. In addition, as mentioned before, the Warriors won all four games against the Rockets this season, with last night’s win.

So the Warriors “aren’t even that good”? Please.

The Rockets appeared to take a physical approach to this game, in the hopes that they could out-muscle the Warriors. How did that work out? Not well.

Patrick Beverley, the Rockets’ scrappy point guard, is known for annoying and frustrating his opponents. He plays physically, and he impacts the game on defense. That’s what he’s known for. That and injuring Russell Westbrook unnecessarily in the 2013 playoffs.

Beverley attempted to get under Stephen Curry‘s skin last night. During one specific play, Beverley played so tightly on Curry that Curry pushed him away, resulting in a technical for the Warriors point guard.

Moments later, Trevor Ariza delivered a sneaky, cheap shot to Curry, which frustrated Curry enough that he wanted to confront Ariza about the push. Curry never appears that flustered or annoyed on the court, but the Rockets’ unnecessarily and childish physical play annoyed him.

The Warriors didn’t let the Rockets’ physicality get to them though, as the Warriors were still able to pull off the win. The Warriors are tough, despite what some uninformed NBA teams might think, and they won’t let any opponent get under their skin. An opponent can try to play the Warriors physically and try to rough them up, but the Warriors will still find a way to beat them.

Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle included quotes from Curry and Draymond Green about the physicality of last night’s in his game recap:

Word of Harden’s rant reached the Warriors’ locker room before the game.

“That’s what they said, ‘We’re not that good,’ so let’s go out here and prove ourselves,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “They think we’re not that good, so all right. I think we’re pretty decent, but we’re nowhere near where we’re going to be, and that’s scary.”

With the Warriors leading 72-50 in the third quarter, tensions started to boil. After Curry was called for an offensive foul, Trevor Ariza chased him down the court and hit him with a shoulder from behind. Curry started yelling at Ariza and needed Green to hold him back. Bogut stepped in front of Curry, applauding his point guard’s fiery intensity.

“The way we’re playing, we can’t get sucked into that drama on the court, because it takes away from what we are,” said Curry, who called Ariza’s move a cheap shot.

Green said, “Nobody backed down. I don’t know why teams continue to try that. It always backfires. Stop trying. You’re not getting under anyone’s skin.”

Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group also shared some of the Warriors’ response to the Rockets’ physical play in his game recap last night. Here’s another quote from Curry and a quote from Steve Kerr:

“That’s how they wanted to try to get back in the game,” Curry said. “It didn’t work. They’re just trying to get under our skin. We answered that physicality, which is playing our brand of basketball and just showing it on the court.

“I thought it was a cheap shot. I don’t know if he meant to do it or not, but that’s how I felt in the moment, and I wanted to tell him.”

Said Kerr: “If you’re really playing well, then teams are going to try to get physical with you. That’s to be expected.”

The Warriors are done playing the Rockets this season. There’s a chance they could meet them in the playoffs, but the Rockets and any team that wishes to rough up the Warriors should know this. The Warriors won’t back down. They’ll just continue to win.