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Houston Rockets Game Day: Can Rockets Rebound in Indy?

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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Houston Rockets Game Day:

Record: 30-39,  Western: 1oth,                                      Record: 46-23,  Western: 3rd,

Central: 4th, last ten 5-5                                                     Southwest: 2nd, last ten 5-5

Houston Rockets vs. Indiana Pacers

Mon Mar 23, 7:00 PM EST – CSNH, FSIN, RTSW, NBAt

Bankers Life Fieldhouse – Indianapolis, IN

 Recent Matchups

Jan 19 IND 98-110 HOU        Mar 8 IND 86-112 HOU       Dec 21 HOU 81-114 IND

 Oct 13 IND 98-107 HOU          Oct 10 HOU 116-96 IND

 Latest Results:

[table id=54 /]

Stats:

[table id=53 /]

Story lines:

  • The first time these teams met James Harden had a huge night scoring 45 points and hit 7 threes of the 12 he took.
  • This week could mark the return of both Dwight Howard and Paul George. I’m still not convinced George will return as every video I’ve seen he doesn’t really seem to be jumping off the injured leg. Given the Pacers head out on the road following tonight’s game one would think he either starts tonight or they wait until Sunday when they return home for the fans to welcome his long journey to recovery back properly. Actually, in a rarity I believe George will receive a hero’s welcome wherever he chooses to start since the injury occurred while  he was preparing to play for his country.
  • Looking at the potential list of players who might not suit up for the Rockets is daunting. If everyone who is listed as questionable, doubtful for the Rockets doesn’t play they’ll have literally just James Harden who is  a core regular starting! And the bench won’t fare much better as key players are questionable there as well. Odds are Beverley and Ariza will gut it out, however they did that Saturday and weren’t successful so maybe McHale decides to just give them the rest they need and roll the dice.
  • While the Pacers are on a 5-game losing streak the Rockets have their own issues specifically on the road where they’ve lost 6 of their past 8. Interestingly not many teams bode well on the road with just the top 4 teams in the East holding a winning road record while 6 teams in the West do with the Rockets being one of the six.

stats nba.com

Next: Limping To the Finish?

 

Jan 9, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) works on his dribbling during warmups before the game against the Boston Celtics at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Walking Wounded:

Indiana:

  • Rodney Stuckey is listed as questionable with a sore calf
  • Paul George is listed as definitely out this evening (per rotoworld)

Houston:

  • Trevor Ariza although he was listed as doubtful vs. the Suns he played and was the best player on the court. Today he is listed as questionable again.
  • Josh Smith: Joins the front court players who might not be available tonight due to a sprained ankle
  • Patrick Beverley has been listed as questionable the last 4-games due to a sore elbow and is once again questionable
  • Terrence Jones  will miss the game due to the partially collapsed lung he suffered Thursday night
  • Kostas Papanikolaou remains out (rather odd that Kostas hurt himself in a pregame warm-up and has subsequently missed 14 games)
  • Dwight Howard remains out but is nearing the date predicted for his return. His status has been upgraded to doubtful

Next: What do you have in reserve?

 

Jan 19, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Josh Smith (5) dribbles against Indiana Pacers guard Donald Sloan (15) in the second half at Toyota Center. Rockets won 110 to 98. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Bench Mob:

[table id=56 /]

The Rockets were steadily improving in their bench production, but the glut of injuries is taking a toll. Conversely Indiana’s bench has been what kept them in games. Though last week was rough, given the Pacers lost all 4 games.

Full bench stats at hoopsstats.com

Key Match-up:

Recognizing there is so much uncertainty regarding who’ll lace them up specifically for the Rockets the burden as it has all season will fall upon the athletically taped shoulders of James Harden who’ll need an MVP type performance and then some if all six players are out.

For the Pacers the key is to keep George Hill limited and to try to get Roy Hibbert into early foul trouble and/or force him into being a jump shooter.

The other key area is Indy’s bench who rank either first or second in all production and defensive stats. With Stuckey possibly out they become much more manageable though

Next: Difference Makers

 

May 3, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (55) and Indiana Pacers guard George Hill (3) celebrate during the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Hawks in game seven of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana won 92-80. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Leaders

Nuggets:

  • George Hill 15.1 points per game
  • Roy Hibbert 7.1 rebounds per game
  • George Hill 4.6 assists per game
  • Roy Hibbert 1.7 blocks per game
  • George Hill 0.9 steals per game

Rockets:

  • James Harden 26.9 points per game
  • Dwight Howard 11 rebounds per game
  • James Harden 7.0 assists per game
  • Terrence Jones 1.6 blocks per game
  • James Harden 1.9 steals per game

Keys To Winning:

  • Learning Josh Smith and Trevor Ariza may both be out pretty much decimates the Rockets front court (other than Motiejunas and Dorsey) so team rebounding has never been more important.
  • PACE: the Pacers have issues scoring the ball so the faster the Rockets force them to play the more likely they’ll hold a large lead even short handed.
  • Fairly or not James Harden will have a ton of pressure on him to perform especially if all the players listed as questionable don’t play. This could literally be a line-up Kevin McHale has to tape together with literally only 5 regular players (2 starters) listed as certain to play. Given that, look for Houston to hoist up even more three point shots than normal.
  • Perhaps the reason for the five game slide by Indiana has more to do with George Hill playing hurt than the team playing poorly. Get to Hill early to lock him down and increase the Rockets chances of success.

Next: And the magic eight ball predicts...

Jan 19, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) dribbles against the Indiana Pacers at Toyota Center. Rockets won 110 to 98. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Pick:

The odds makers have Houston favored by 1.5 points which in essence is a draw given every home team tends to receive a 1.5 point advantage. With so many players unsure of whether they’ll play tonight it makes this a hard game to call. Since NBA TV are featuring the game though we do know a certain bearded man who gets up for games when the spotlight is on him!

Next: Superman is not walking through that door

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