Houston Rockets vs. Warriors: The best lineup without Kevin Durant

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, an opponent of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, an opponent of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

With the Houston Rockets facing the Warriors without Durant what’s the most efficient lineup to watch out for? Let’s take a look at a few combinations.

Houston Rockets fans — it’s now or never, do or die, as well as the final push for this team to prove that they can beat the Golden State Warriors in a playoff series.  This team was specifically built to do so and now is more of an opportunity than ever for this team take advantage of what’s in front of them.

Quite frankly, it’s surprising to me that the Houston Rockets didn’t take advantage of the opportunity that they had in front of them to win Game 5 when Kevin Durant went down with his right calf injury with 2:05 left in the 3rd quarter.

The Houston Rockets were trailing 68-65 at that moment but it just took 50 seconds for the team to take the lead after two James Harden free throws and a hell of a finger roll to the basket.  One would think that the game was in the bag with Durant out but the team seemed to just hang in there, not playing with a sense of urgency to win this game to gain the upper hand in this series.

As I mentioned, the clock turned back to 2014-15, when the Warriors’ core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were accentuated as the headliners.

The ball movement got noticeably better and you saw Green being more active offensively.  The man was shooting threes like back in the day!  Curry wasn’t afraid to shoot freely anymore and they were vigorously trying to find the open man.  It worked successfully because they were able to hold on to win Game 5.

With Durant in the fold, I know these guys have had to defer because they know he’s most effective when he has the ball in his hands, ready to launch from wherever he’s at.  But with him out of the equation, I know these guys feel freer than ever to create.  Although the Houston Rockets‘ roster looked way different back in 2015, can this team be able to stymie the Warriors and move on to the Western Conference Finals?

We’re about to find that out tonight.

As you know, the Warriors’ most efficient lineups have included Durant and without him in the mix, there will be an effect that the Houston Rockets must pounce on.

Here’s some food for thought:

The Warriors’ most-used lineup that yielded the highest plus/minus comprised of Durant, Curry,

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Green, Andre Iguodala and Kevon Looney.  This group nets a 5.6 and has been featured in eight games during the playoffs.  This arrangement of five has averaged 3.8 minutes per game together.

Their typical starting five of Durant, Curry, Thompson, Green and Iguodala has a plus/minus of a 0.6 in 11 games in the postseason.  This bunch has averaged 14.9 minutes per game.

So what’s their most efficient lineup without Durant?

It’s currently Curry, Green, Looney, Alfonzo McKinnie and Shaun Livingston.  Looney was Capela’s kryptonite Wednesday night and he’ll be called upon again to try to do the same thing.  Livingston and McKinnie are formidable performers off the bench so I’d expect to see a slight uptick in these guy’s minutes as well.

So as you’d probably like to know, what’s their plus/minus?  It’s currently at a 4.3 and they’ve been featured in three games averaging 2.1 minutes per contest.

It’s tough to tell which way Steve Kerr will go with strategy but there’s a good chance that Looney is going to be the X-Factor considering how well he was effective against the Houston Rockets.

It will be up to Capela to neutralize and show the world why his five-year, $90 million deal that he inked this offseason was warranted.

I can’t wait until later tonight!

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The Houston Rockets will take on the Warriors with a tip-off of 8 p.m. CDT.  The game will be televised on ESPN and broadcast on SportsRadio 740 AM (KTRH) and La Ranchera 850 AM (KEYH) in Spanish.