Houston Rockets vs. Warriors: P.J. Tucker will be the catalyst on defense

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 04: PJ Tucker #4 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 04: PJ Tucker #4 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets will partake in the Western Conference finals tonight against the Golden State Warriors, with this match up featuring the best two teams in the NBA right now.  P.J. Tucker will be a HUGE factor in this series and I think he’ll neutralize whatever assignment he’s given.  Let’s look further.

Houston Rockets fans — the time is now.  The team will now take on the Warriors to what it promised to be the most entertaining series of the playoffs thus far and likely the most in many seasons.  These teams were built in the same fashion and they have prolific offenses featuring hard-nose defense on the other end of the court.

James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela will all be playing the game of their lives against the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant.  There’s no question that these guys won’t leave anything on the table this series as there’s no tomorrow.  The likely winner of this series — hopefully the Houston Rockets — will win the NBA Championship.  Yes, I’m not too bold with my prediction but it’s something that I feel is certainly the truth.

But let’s talk about a guy that’s been sort of overlooked in playoffs so far.  Who am I talking about?  None other than P.J. Tucker.  Tucker has gone from a quality vet to come off the bench to key guy that has been inserted into the starting lineup.  I proposed this to happen earlier in the season because he’s a much better starter/finisher than Ryan Anderson.  You take a look here and read that if you like.

His 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per 36 minutes in the playoffs so far certainly alludes to the fact

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that he needs to be in this starting lineup, being one of the guys to get this robust engine that we call the Houston Rockets started.

Tucker is not going to set the world on fire on the offensive end but will take open shots if the situation warrants.  He has been brought here because of his gritty, in-your-face style play and has become an absolute pest on defense.  He does the dirty work that Patrick Beverley used to carry out but in a more solemn manner than his counterpart.

He ultimately needs to be tick, a thorn in the Golden State Warriors side to ensure that they don’t forget who he is.  I think he’ll be the catalyst to ensure guys like Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and Zaza Pachulia are locked down.  He’s already proven that he can slide over the five when the lineup goes small so why not have him do it again?

Like I said — there’s no tomorrow and P.J. will ultimately be up to the challenge.  At this moment, he certainly is one of the key contributors on defense that directly helps this team win.

Tucker currently has a defensive win share rating of .050, which is 4th behind Trevor Ariza (.067), Harden (.060) and Paul (.058).  He still currently ranks just slightly ahead of Capela (.048).

Although the signing of Chris Paul will be the most-oft talked about, you can’t underestimate the value that Tucker has brought to this roster.  At the end of the day, when the dust settles from this series regardless of however it goes, he’s certainly going to be one the team’s top contributors on both ends of the court.  And for that, I’m damn proud to make that admonishment.

Tucker has averaged 9.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks along with a shooting line of .485/.458/.800 through the 2017-18 postseason so far.

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The Rockets will take on the Warriors tonight for Game 1 at Toyota Center tonight.  Their tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. CDT.  The game will be televised on TNT and broadcast on SportsRadio 740 AM and La Ranchera 850 AM in Spanish.

Good luck P.J.!