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Houston Rockets Game Day: Pacers Arrive For MLK Day

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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Houston Rockets Game Day:

Coming off an embarrassing loss to Golden State, the Rockets need to get back on track in the winning column. More importantly the team needs to address their issues of taking teams not considered contenders for granted. Indiana offers the perfect foil for Houston to establish consistent habits against as they start the second half of the season.

The game begins at 5:30 an unusual start time as this game is one of the featured NBA games on Martin Luther King Day.

Team Rank:

Houston: 4th in West, 2nd in Southwest Division

Indiana: Last in Central Division with a 15-27 record (NOTE: Pacers sit just 4 games out of East playoff seeds)

Offense: Houston: 15th (103.2 points per 100 possessions) – Indiana: 29th (97.9 points per 100 possessions)

Defense:  Houston: 2nd (allowing 99.2 points per 100 possessions) – Indiana: 9th (allowing 100.7 points per 100 possessions)

Net: Houston: 9th with a positive point differential of +4.0 – Indiana: 23rd with a negative point differential of -2.9

Pace: Houston: 7th with a pace of 98.26 possessions over 48 minutes – Indiana: 21st with a pace of 95.51 possessions over 48 minutes

Points Per Game: Houston: 8th  –  Indiana: 27th

Rebounds Per Game: Houston: 12th – Indiana: 5th

Assists Per Game:  Houston: 19th – Indiana: 20th

Opposition Points Per game: Houston: 11th (NOTE: Houston have dropped from 6th to 11th in a week)–  Indiana: 2nd

Stats via nba.com

Jan 13, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward David West(21) after being ejected in the fourth quarter of their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Minnesota went on to beat the Pacers, 110-101 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Notable Stats:

  • Indiana are on a 4-game losing streak.
  • In this period Indiana has been starved for points averaging just 90.0 points and have shot a poor 22.7% from behind the arc.
  • Pacers scored just 71 points in their last outing (which included an overtime frame!)
  • Indiana has lost 8 of 10 games versus the West on the road
  • George Hill has missed 9-games due to a groin strain
  • James Harden hasn’t had back to back sub par performances all season

stats nba.com

More from Space City Scoop

Bench:

  • While the Pacers have trouble scoring their bench is ranked second in efficiency with a positive +11.9
  • Pacers’ bench ranks fourth in scoring with 40.2 points per game
  • In the past 10-games Indiana has experienced a drop off while Houston has risen to the middle of the pack

stats: hoopsstats.com

Key Match-up:

While Indiana still has solid producers in David West and Roy Hibbert the truth is the game comes down to Houston not beating themselves.

Look for Dwight Howard, Donatas Motiejunas, Trevor Ariza and Josh Smith to all crash the boards to make the Pacer presence irrelevant.

Walking Wounded:

Indiana:

  • George Hill is listed as unlikely for the game remaining out due to a groin injury
  • Paul George is out for the season following the horrendous leg fracture at U.S.A. training camp

Houston:

  • Terrence Jones remains out with nerve damage to his foot

Keys To Winning:

  • Attack Roy Hibbert in the paint and get him in early foul trouble.
  • Force Hibbert to be the player to beat you and specifically close out the paint so he has to do it from the field
  • Put extra defensive pressure on C.J. Miles and David West as they’ll be the key contributors
  • Establish an inside out presence early with Howard and Harden so they both excel
  • Push the pace (no pun intended): this Pacer squad simply doesn’t have the manpower to keep up with the Rockets
  • Lock down on the defensive end and force Indiana into a perimeter shooting team where they do not excel

The Pick:

The odds makers have Houston favored by 10 points at home. For the Rockets and James Harden specifically the arrival of Indiana should be signal a welcome relief. Harden doesn’t have back to back bad performances so look for him to right the ship today. The Pacers may well be on a 4-game losing streak and without the personnel to post a huge point total, but they still feature a number of professionals who aren’t about to roll over and just give Houston the win. This is the game the Rockets need to start establishing consistent fundamental habits they can carry through to the end of the season. Therefore, I’m calling for multiple double digit scoring, another 30-point scoring effort from Harden and a 10-point winning margin.

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