Jan 8, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) watches from the bench during the fourth quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The Houston Rockets open the 2014-15 NBA season on Oct. 28 against Kobe Bryant, Jeremy Lin and the Los Angeles Lakers. The next night, the team turns around to face the young Utah Jazz. The season begins on the road, and the Rockets will look to set the tone there before returning to the Toyota Center in November.
First, let’s look at the nationally televised Games:
Oct 28 at Los Angeles Lakers (TNT)
Nov 6 vs. San Antonio Spurs (TNT)
Nov 12 at Minnesota Timberwolves (ESPN)
Nov 19 vs. Los Angeles Lakers (ESPN)
Likely Outcome: 3-1
Both games against the L.A. Lakers should result in victories. It’s hard to write off a team that has Kobe Bryant, but the Rockets are far and away better than the men in purple and gold. It’s a young roster with an aging Mamba, and while Jeremy Lin fans will drool at the chance for revenge, the Rockets will be favored in both games by Vegas oddsmakers.
The defending champion San Antonio Spurs will be tough, even playing at the Toyota Center. We’ll get a good look at what Trevor Ariza can do with premier small forwards, as Kawhi Leonard, the 2014 Finals MVP, looks to carve up the Rockets’ D. The Spurs move the ball better than any team in basketball, and defensive rotations are a problem already for the Rockets.
The Minnesota Timberwolves will offer a first look at a future star in Andrew Wiggins, but the Wolves are likely due to regress this season. Kevin Love is a top-3 NBA power forward and Wiggins is many years away from reaching his prime. The Wolves may or may not even have him when he reaches that point, given that he will have every chance to leave for a better market after his rookie contract expires.