Rockets News

Houston Rockets: What to watch for in the first game vs. the Pelicans

By Michael Knight
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 17: Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans drives against James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets during the second half at the Smoothie King Center on March 17, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 17: Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans drives against James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets during the second half at the Smoothie King Center on March 17, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
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The day has finally come, ladies and gentlemen. The Houston Rockets are finally back and officially begin their season tonight against the Pelicans.

The Houston Rockets are back, folks. They are starting off the regular season with a national television game against the New Orleans Pelicans at 7:00 tonight on ESPN.

As such, there is a ton to watch for in the opener. The storylines as the new season begins are running wild as the Rockets look to improve from a season ago when they were just one win (one half, really) away from an NBA Finals appearance.

They made some pretty big changes in the offseason, choosing to not re-sign defensive specialists Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute. Instead, they decided to bring in a younger 3-and-D player, James Ennis, along with others including the long-pursued Carmelo Anthony to take on some of the scoring load.

Before we get into what to watch for, let’s take a look at the projected starters for tonight:

Projected Starting 5

Chris Paul/James Harden/James Ennis/P.J. Tucker/Clint Capela

There was a bit of a question mark on who would start at small forward in the absence of Ariza, but James Ennis has answered that call. Expect this to be the starting 5 for the majority of the season.

What to Watch for

The big elephant in the room is that Carmelo Anthony is not starting. Tonight will be the first game of his career that Melo hasn’t been in the starting 5. 1054 regular season games played, 1054 regular season games started. He is ready to adjust to his new role with the Rockets, we’ll see tonight how that adjustment begins.

Clint Capela vs. Anthony Davis is always a fun matchup. Clint will be tested immediately against the best big man in the game. How will the Rockets’ center continue to improve as he attempts to make the first All-Star Game of his career?

Last season, Chris Paul started out the season by attempting to play through an injury. That didn’t go very well and he ended up missing quite a few games from it. This time around, he’s completely healthy and ready to roll. It will be interesting to see how CP3 gets going right out of the gate.

Going back to James Ennis, it will be fun to watch how he changes the game as opposed to Ariza or Mbah a Moute. He is much better in transition and his shot was on in the preseason. He could end up bringing a bit more transition game back into the offense.

As for the opponent, it is an early test for the Pelicans. They lost big man DeMarcus Cousins and point guard Rajon Rondo to other Western Conference teams. Will they still be able to be a similar team to what they were in the playoffs? Can Anthony Davis stay healthy and lead them to the postseason?

Next. James Ennis to start for the Rockets

There is a ton to watch for, much more than we mentioned in this article. Let us know what you’re looking forward to in tonight’s game!

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