Both the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers are enjoying their time visiting Manila, but come Thursday evening(Thursday morning for the states), both teams will switch to business mode as the two are set to face off in the first of their two pre-season matchups.
While the environment and enthusiasm won’t feel like a pre-season game, it is after all, the Rockets second pre-season game. The starters will get around the same amount of playing time as they did in the Pelicans game(no more than 30 minutes); but against a tough, defensive-minded Pacers unit, it’ll be more of a challenge to find a rhythm on the offensive end.
Omer Asik has been ruled out of Thursday’s game as his calf injury has not allowed him to practice. The hope for Asik is that he will be able to go for Sunday’s game in Taiwan. Marcus Camby will not suit up once again, while Francisco Garcia, who missed the pre-season opener practiced Wednesday and is listed as questionable.
Starting Unit Gets A Test
The starting unit didn’t look rusty at all in their first game, but this time, they face a unit that ranked in the top 5 of just about every major defensive category a season ago. While the Pacers are also in pre-season mode, the individual matchups at each position will be something to keep an eye on. How does Dwight Howard fare against a traditional, taller center in Roy Hibbert? Can James Harden remain effective against one of the best 2-guard defenders in Paul George? Danny Granger/Chandler Parsons, George Hill/Jeremy Lin, David West/.…….which leads me to
Power Forward Candidates
Donatas Motiejunas looked out of sync and struggled mightily against the Pelicans as he got the start at power forward, while Terrence Jones(13 points, 5 rebounds in 23 minutes) and Omri Casspi(20 points in 20 minutes) dazzled.
Hopefully, all three players get a chance at going up against a true, solid power forward in West, as well as their capable back-up, Tyler Hansbrough.
Figuring Out The Bench Rotation
Aside from Jones, Casspi, and Patrick Beverley, the bench did not look good in the first game as a unit. For Kevin McHale, it remains a work in progress to figure out which reserves make the rotation, so expect a variety of lineup combinations.
All four point guards played Saturday evening, with Isaiah Canaan getting some minutes late in the fourth quarter, while Aaron Brooks looked unimpressive during his outing. It’s beginning to look like those 2 will battle for the 3rd point guard spot, so Canaan may get more minutes in Thursday’s game.
The wing rotation is unsettled at the moment as well. With Garcia out, Ronnie Brewer and Robert Covington received the bulk of the minutes, but both players were not too productive in their own right. Covington may get an early look, as he played mostly in the fourth quarter, while Reggie Williams is still waiting to make his Rockets pre-season debut.
Tip-Off Time: 6:30 AM CST
TV: CSN Houston/NBA TV