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Rockets will be challenged to stop Curry, avoid turnovers

Noah Graham/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors had their way with the Houston Rockets last season, sweeping the four meetings in the regular season and then winning the Western Conference Finals in five games.

Will they be able to duplicate that in 2015-16? The teams meet again tonight in the second game of our ESPN doubleheader. Here are some of the statistical storylines our broadcast crew will be tracking.

Can the Rockets stop Curry?

Stephen Curry was challenging to stop for most teams, but especially so for the Rockets. In the regular season, Curry averaged 25.8 points on 58 percent shooting from the field (52 percent from 3-point range) against them. That shooting percentage was his best against any Western Conference opponent.

In the playoffs, he bumped his points per game up to 31.2, shot 52 percent from the field and 49 percent from 3-point range.

Curry was at his most efficient in the fourth quarter. He was 24-for-38 from the field and 9-of-14 from 3 in the final 12 minutes of regulation, good for an effective shooting percentage of 75 percent.

Curry opened the season by scoring 40 points. He’s never had back-to-back 40-point games.

Can the Rockets bounce back?

Houston, playing without Dwight Howard, lost to the Nuggets by 20 points in its season opener. Since Howard joined the Rockets, the team is 77-35 (.688) when he’s in the lineup. Without him the team is 33-20 (.623).

The Rockets big move this offseason was the acquisition of point guard Ty Lawson, who led the NBA in most drives to the basket per game last season. The Rockets now have two players who ranked in the top five in that stat last season (James Harden rated fifth). Lawson and Harden each exceeded their 2014-15 average with each having 14 drives to the basket in their loss to the Nuggets.

Driving and kicking didn’t work for the Rockets in their first game. The Rockets shot 23 percent from 3-point range. Last season Houston had only seven games in which it shot worse than that from 3-point range.

The Rockets will also be looking to shore up some issues allowing free points last season. They allowed 26 points off turnovers in the loss to the Nuggets, eight more than they averaged per game last season.

The Rockets turned the ball over on 17 percent of their possessions last season, the third-highest rate in the NBA. They allowed the second-most combined points off turnovers and second-chance points per game last season (32.2).