Houston Rockets Game Day:
The Rockets are back in first place in the toughest division in the Association and will look to take advantage of two Eastern teams prior to heading back home to face two of the West’s best. Brooklyn is currently a playoff seed, but that has more to do with there being fewer tough teams in the East.
Houston currently rank third in the West and first in the Southwest Division with a 26-11 record.
Brooklyn are second in the Atlantic Division and are eighth in the Eastern Conference with a 16-21 record.
Offense: Houston: 18th (102.6 points per 100 possessions) – Brooklyn: 24th (99.6 points per 100 possessions)
Defense: Houston: 2nd (allowing 98.0 points per 100 possessions) – Brooklyn: 12 (allowing 102.5 points per 100 possessions)
Net: Houston: 8th with a positive point differential of +4.6 – Brooklyn: 22nd with a negative point differential of -2.9
Pace: Houston: 7th with a pace of 97.80 possessions over 48 minutes – Brooklyn: 26th with a pace of 94.3 possessions over 48 minutes
Points Per Game: Houston: 14th – Brooklyn: 25rd
Rebounds Per Game: Houston: 9th – Brooklyn: 17th
Assists Per Game: Houston: 23rd – Brooklyn: 19th
Opposition Points Per game: Houston: 3rd – Brooklyn: 6th
Stats via nba.com
Three Point Advantage:
- As per usual Houston has a real advantage from behind the arc, but this game marks a huge advantage as the Nets are shooting just 23% in their last 5 games from 3-point range.
- The Nets are on a 5 game losing streak while Houston is on a 3 game winning streak. Let’s hope both streaks stay in tack with the Rockets earning 4 in a row and the Nets sinking to 6 straight losses.
Houston’s bench continue to improve their bench statistics with their new additions and will have a true advantage over Brooklyn’s 21st ranked bench who have slipped to 26th in their last 5 games in bench scoring while Houston have climbed to 15th.
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- NBA Rumors: Why the Houston Rockets shouldn’t trade up to no. 1 in NBA Draft
- 3 players that would be a perfect fit for the Houston Rockets at 23 or 24
Rocket Stats Climbing:
Over the past 5-games the Rockets have been integrating new players and are beginning to recognize a growth in certain areas. Specifically they are climbing the ladder in assists. Over the past 5-games Houston rank 7th with 23.8 assists per game.
The Rockets are the number one team over the past 5-games in steals (11.6 per game).
Conversely the Nets have been losing to sub-.500 teams (4 of 5 recent losses) and scoring only 91 points per 100 possession.
Brook Lopez vs. Dwight Howard
Lopez doesn’t have huge numbers (14.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 50% field goal percent) and isn’t a great rebounder, but Howard will need to keep him honest as he can score inside and can stretch out to 17 or 18 feet where he’s very accurate.
Joe Johnson vs. James Harden
While Ariza will get the defensive assignment on Johnson the scoring will likely come down to how well the Rockets can limit Johnson who has a great offensive variety. Joe Cool is one of those players you don’t even realize is scoring and before you know it he has 20 points and has set up half his team mates to score. His size makes him a difficult cover, so Ariza will need to keep him honest on the offensive end.
- Deron Williams cracked a rib and is out indefinitely
- Markel Brown: out until late January with a knee injury
- ESPN reports Dwight Howard played through a sore Saturday and is probable for tonight
- Terrence Jones remains out due to nerve damage in his leg
Keys To Winning:
- Limit Brook Lopez touches in the paint
- Rebounding is key
- Force Jarrett Jack into driving
- Continue to build on lessons learned in recent wins: establishing Howard inside, increased ball movement, defensive principles
The odds makers are on board with the Rockets win streak selecting them to take Brooklyn on the road by 7 points. I’m inclined to agree.