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Game Day Preview: Houston Rockets vs. Philadelphia 76ers

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Rockets vs. 76ers

James Harden and the Rockets will look to build off an impressive come back win in Toronto as they visit Philadelphia to square off against the 76ers. This will be Houston’s third game of their 5 – game Eastern Conference road trip.

The Rockets enter this contest with a record of 31-32 placing them two full games above the Utah Jazz. As the season is quickly coming to an end and the race for the final playoff spot starts to heat up, the Rockets must not over look a lowly opponent like the 76ers.

Tonight’s match up is by no means a cake walk as the 76ers have steadily shown improvement through their last five games by staying competitive against teams such as the Miami Heat and Washington Wizards.

The Details

Venue: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA

Game Time: 7:00 PM ET – 6:00 PM CT

TV: CSN, ROOT

Radio: 790 AM, 97.5 The Fanatic

Walking Wounded

Houston Rockets:

Philadelphia 76ers:

Projected Starters

76ers: Ish Smith, Hollis Thompson, Robert Covington, Jerami Grant, Carl Landry

Rockets: Patrick Beverley, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Donatas Motiejunas, Dwight Howard

hou vs phi
hou vs phi

Keys To Winning:

  • Don’t Underestimate Your Opponent: Yes it is the Philadelphia 76ers and yes they are the worst team in the NBA but if you’re the Houston Rockets there is absolutely zero room to over look any opponent right now. Just about every game counts as the season comes to an end with the potential of missing the playoffs at hand. Philadelphia is a team rebuilding which means that at any moment any player on the roster can be let go. Players on this Philadelphia team are not only playing for the spirit of competition but for their livelihood as an NBA player. If the Rockets approach this game with the mentality of a superior team, a rude awakening can be in store.

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  • Limit Turnovers: Although the 76ers are in the bottom tier of almost every statistical category, they rank 9th in Steals Per Game and 12th overall in Opponent’s Turn Overs Per Game (per teamrankings.com). When forced into a half court set, this young Philadelphia team gets rattled into unforced errors due to the lack of inexperience and being impatient. The 76ers only source of constant offensive production is in transition where they’re able to utilize their athletic strength to finish at the rim.
  • Defense, Defense and Defense: In the past two games against the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls, the Rockets were at their best when mounting comebacks through “hair on fire” defense. Sadly, the defensive urgency displayed through the previous two games has not been a show for the full 48 minutes but rather the last 12. To swing momentum your way heading into the playoffs, the Rockets must approach games such as this one with a mentality of establishing dominance and it all starts with defense. Too often will Houston save energy on the defensive side of the ball to exert energy into offensive production. When your best player is arguably the most dangerous and reliable offensive weapon in the league, an emphasis on defense should be top the priority list of concerns as the offense will naturally come.

Prediction

The odds makers have the Rockets as 10 point favorites with a total over/under of 219.

Though on the surface this seems like a game the Rockets should handle easily after defeating the East’s second best team in the Toronto Raptors, this game is also the classic let down spot for a team like Houston. I don’t trust the mental make up of this current Houston team nor the leadership abilities for the Rockets to handle business in the fashion they should tonight. Another sleep walk performance through the first three quarters which will lead to a balls to the wall effort in the fourth game for Houston.

Houston – 109
Philadelphia – 104

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