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Predicting Disney: Houston Rockets

Predicting Disney: Houston Rockets

Prior to COVID-19 suspending the season, the Houston Rockets were transitioning to an extreme system of small ball. After the tactics showed early success, the Rockets faced a small skid due to injuries and durability. The break in action was more beneficial for Houston than almost any other team.

The system that head coach Mike D'Antoni is utilizing, requires a constant stream of effort. With Eric Gordon fully healthy, the team will be able to flaunt the tantalizing backcourt of James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Gordon. Luckily for Houston, there had only been one opt-out on the roster, and that was Thabo Sefolosha, who had seen his minutes decrease with the additions of Jeff Green and DeMarre Carroll. Daryl Morey used the roster spot to bring back a familiar face and Luc Mbah a Moute.

Fully committed to the system, Houston has the necessary pieces to make a deep run in the playoffs, but before that, they must partake in a short eight-game regular-season finale. Let’s take a look at how those eight contests may fare.

Eight-Game Schedule 

July 31st vs. Dallas Mavericks: W 

The rested Rockets will be able to put their new, successful system on full display against a quality Mavericks squad. Houston matches up well with their in-state opponent; it will likely be a close game, but I expect the Rockets’ firepower may be too much to handle for the Mavericks.

August 2nd vs. Milwaukee Bucks: L

This will be Houston’s toughest game as the Milwaukee Bucks are arguably the best team in the NBA. The system in which Giannis Antetokounmpo is surrounded by solid perimeter shooters has been a tough challenge for the Rockets in the past, but I believe they are better equipped with the new roster makeover. With that being said, I’m chalking this one up as a loss.

August 4th vs. Portland Trailblazers: W 

The Portland Trailblazers will likely have Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins back in the rotation, but the Rockets’ perimeter and interior defense will be able to combat that. Trevor Ariza has opted out of the restart and I have concerns about whether Portland will be able to contain all of the offensive threats or not.

August 6th vs. Los Angeles Lakers: L

Even though the Los Angeles Lakers will be without defensive specialist Avery Bradley, they serve as a rough matchup problem due to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The supporting cast is inferior to that of the Rockets, but Houston will struggle significantly when they play against an opponent with an interior big.

August 9th vs. Sacramento Kings: W 

The Sacramento Kings are the worst of the eight teams that the Rockets will play in the restart. I honestly could see this game not being close, despite the talent the opposition has. The days of playing down to competition are likely over for the Rockets, and the contest between the Kings will be a testament to that sentiment

August 11th vs. San Antonio Spurs: W 

Like the Kings, the Spurs are on the outside looking in. Houston has struggled with San Antonio this season due to not matching effort, but the system that the Rockets are enforcing requires a ton of it. In a vacuum, Houston is more talented; if they match the Spurs’ intensity, the team shouldn’t have any major problems.

August 12th vs. Indiana Pacers: W 

The only back-to-back that the Rockets will play is against the Spurs and the Pacers. Without Victor Oladipo, Indiana will be without their star player. Like the previous two contests, I can see Harden and Westbrook having field days. With that being said, Malcolm Brogdon, Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis will have a collective chance to spoil Houston’s day.

August 14th vs. Philadelphia 76ers: W

It will be interesting to see how well Houston’s small-ball defense will fare against Joel Embiid, but the rest of the system matches up well with the Philadelphia 76ers. On the offensive end, the Rockets will be able to take advantage of Embiid, Al Horford, and others due to screens and ball movement.

Final Record: 46-26

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