Game Day Preview finds the Houston Rockets traveling to the desert to face the Phoenix Suns who just happen to be the the last team they defeated.
The trade deadline passed and now the Houston Rockets will attempt to collect the pieces that fell during the unsuccessful negotiations in their final 27 games.
At the forefront it the need for the teams two stars and leaders to act like the latter despite the scuttlebutt out in the universe regarding their dislike of one another. Time to put on your big boy pants and act like real leaders gentlemen!.
Here’s the game day breakdown:
Venue: Talking Stick Resort Arena – Phoenix, Arizona
Game Time: 9:30 PM EST – 8:30 PM CT
TV: ROOT in Houston, FSAZ+ in Phoenix or NBA League Pass
Radio: 790 AM in Houston and AZ Sports 98.7 FM in Phoenix
Last season the Rockets took 3 of 4 meetings, tonight marks the second time these teams meet this season.
February 4: HOU 111 – 105 PHO
Mar 21: PHO 117 – 102 @ HOU
Feb 10: HOU 127 – 118 @PHO
Jan 23: HOU 113- 111 @PHO
So, I pull up my internet bookmarked sites I use to check injuries, and immediately realize at least one isn’t up to date as it still lists the 2 players traded yesterday (worse it was updated today). Wonder how long it will take CBS to figure out someone dropped the ball! Fortunately rotoworld has an up to date list.
- Brandon Knight –groin, didn’t practice on Wednesday – likely out Friday
- Ronnie Price – foot, had right toe surgery, probable to play
- T.J. Warren – had surgery Tuesday on his ankle, out for season
- Eric Bledsoe – knee, out for season
- Terrence Jones – last time these teams played Jone was in a car accident on his way to catch the flight and hasn’t played since due to a concussion. He won’t play tonight either.
- Sam Dekker – back surgery November 20, For the first time since his back surgery (Nov 20th) he isn’t on the injured list, which is why I noted it here.
Notes: I’m guessing one of Weems or Teletovic will be in the starting line-up, I’m just not sure which one.
The Key Sun:
Devin Booker: He still sports the baby face we witnessed in summer league, but his growth and comfort in the Association is palpable. Sure he still has a long way to go, but there is reason to believe this kid is going to be something special. His shot is so pure he takes on comparisons to two young guards over in Golden State. Yet unlike the rookie years of those All-Stars something Booker already seems to have is a good feel for mixing up his offense and his defense is vastly improved since season start. Sure he still has a long way to go, but now that Warren is out of the season he’ll start the remainder of the season and he’ll be in the conversation for Rookie of the Year when all is said and done.
Avoid the urge to make this a track meet: A quick look at the stat comparison above showcases the Rockets should be able to dominate the Suns offensively. Yet a closer look shows both teams are brutal defensively each allowing teams to score 106.8 points and shoot 52% from the field. Here’s the thing if the Rockets fall into playing a full out run and gun game they are asking for trouble as several Suns players like Booker, Goodwin and Teletovic could all get hot behind the line. It’s time for Houston to let their defense dictate how the game is played and tonight would be a great place to begin implementing those habits.
Play the opponent, not the record: while the Suns appear lottery bound and are injury depleted the Rockets need to be careful not to fall into the trap of playing the record. The Suns have still to register a victory for their new (interim) coach Watson.
Focus on fundamentals: there are so many little areas of the game the Rockets need to improve such as limiting turnovers, finishing plays, boxing out players, helping the helper… etc, etc. It’s time the Rockets got back to basics and made those fundamental items a priority.
Here is an interesting fact: the odds makers have the Rockets favored by 8 points with an over-under of 214 which is exactly the same margin they had in their February 4th meeting. The only difference is the action though leaning toward Houston isn’t quite as dominant as their last outing.
Prediction: Again expect the Suns to come out with a view to get Watson his first win. When a team has nothing to lose they shoot freely and comfortably which the Rockets should expect. In essence this Suns squad will play spoiler the remainder of the season and their youngsters will vie to gain extra minutes. In addition, gone is the malcontent Morris which will make Archie Godwin happy for one, and likely several others on the squad.
Conversely the Rockets are left dealing with their dirty laundry still hanging out for the public to see. Let’s put it this way, as much as Houston should be winning this game by a wide margin I won’t be surprised if they struggle. AND if they lose tonight I personally have no faith they’ll make the post season unless getting there occurs due to other teams’ efforts. That is if Utah, Portland and the teams vying for the bottom seeds fall apart. I just don’t have faith in this Rockets squad any longer, or rather I don’t have faith in their leadership.
That said I’ll pick the Rockets by 5.
For more exciting news and stories on the Phoenix Suns visit our affiliate Fansided site: Valley Of The Suns Plus check our our Preseason Team Preview of the Suns :
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