• Dalton Pence

The Most Important Games for the Houston Rockets

USA Today

There are a plethora of storylines surrounding the Houston Rockets for the upcoming season: the Westbrook-Harden marriage, title aspirations, etc. It would make sense that the organization would not have a shortage of interesting matchups and with the schedule being released last Monday, that is exactly the case. I could continue to go on and on about the microscope that the Rockets are under, but it’s nothing that you have not already heard. Let’s cut to the chase; here are the top five most important games for Houston this season.

5. January 18th vs Los Angeles Lakers

This will be the first meeting of the season between the two powerhouses and although it may not hold too much weight in terms of the postseason, the hype will be through the roof. The LeBron James-Anthony Davis duo will clash with Westbrook and Harden, giving us a glimpse of just how the teams match up with each other. Both duos will have a couple months under their belts by January 18th to work out chemistry issues and other roles should be getting defined as well. Is it a must-win game for Houston? Not necessarily. However, this matchup gives the Rockets a prime opportunity to show the league that they are to be reckoned with.

4. November 13th vs Los Angeles Clippers

If you asked people to predict who makes it out of the Western Conference, most will say the Clippers. In the newly-formed era of duos, LA may have the top one with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. This early season matchup gives the Rockets an opportunity to send an early statement to the world and a victory would do numbers for organizational morale. To make matters more interesting, Westbrook and George will be opponents once again, but George’s shoulder issues point to him not being available to play. Oh, and we can’t forget the beef these two squads have had since 2017…that’s not going to change.

3. January 9th @ Oklahoma City Thunder

Ah yes…the return. Unlike Kevin Durant, I would expect Westbrook to be greeted by a shower of cheers and appreciation during his first time playing in Oklahoma City as a member of another team. It can be inferred that the Rockets will match his intensity and effort in an attempt to make it a successful homecoming. On the other side, I assume Chris Paul to still be in a Thunder uniform due to his contract, and the Harden-Paul reunion will be one to watch as well. Emotions will be running extremely high and I wouldn’t rule out multiple scuffles because of the energy.

2. December 25th @ Golden State Warriors

It seems as if the Rockets always have a prime Christmas Day matchup each season; that notion has been confirmed. Houston will travel to Golden State and although it won’t be the first meeting between the two teams, the stage will be set. It’s no secret that Houston has been programmed to try to take down the Warriors dynasty, but they’ve continuously failed since 2015. The departures of Durant, Andre Iguodala, and others have given the Warriors a new look that features recent addition D’Angelo Russell. Christmas Day will present Houston with a unique opportunity: establish themselves against Golden State with the rest of the league tuning in.

1. October 24th vs Milwaukee Bucks

Is opening night against Milwaukee the most important game? 100% yes. All eyes will be on the Rockets, primarily on Harden and Westbrook. The MVP comes to a city where he isn’t viewed as such; H-Town will be rocking as they anticipate the beginning of a new era that was never foreseen. It is critical that the Rockets perform well in this game, for the sake of the fans. Huge nights from Harden and Westbrook that result in a win would do wonders for the team and the city, while putting the league on notice. Everyone is saying it won’t work, so how will the duo respond?

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