Rockets News

Houston Rockets: What to watch for against the Trail Blazers

By Michael Knight
PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 20: Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball against Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers on March 20, 2018 at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 20: Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball against Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers on March 20, 2018 at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Houston Rockets will be shorthanded once again tonight as they face the Trail Blazers. Can they still manage to get back on track and win?

The Houston Rockets are struggling in multiple areas right now. They haven’t been 100% healthy all season and now that has spread to the 2018 MVP James Harden. He is nursing a hamstring injury that could be worse than originally expected.

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reported that the Beard might miss more than the expected two games, but that he could be back soon:

D'Antoni said he doubts James Harden will be ready for Brooklyn on Friday, but is doing well. At Chicago the next night.

— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) October 29, 2018

Let’s hope that he’s back in time for the Chicago game on Saturday night.

As for the game tonight, the Rockets will be shorthanded against the dangerous Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers are 4-2 to start the year and have looked similar to last year’s squad that could go off at any moment (besides the playoffs).

Let’s look at the projected starters:

Starting 5s

Rockets

Chris Paul/Eric Gordon/P.J. Tucker/Carmelo Anthony/Clint Capela

Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard/C.J. McCollum/Al-Farouq Aminu/Jake Layman/Jusuf Nurkic

What to Watch for

The Rockets will need to be careful tonight when dealing with the deadly duo of Lillard and McCollum. Both of those players have the ability to drop 50 if given the opportunity and they need to be defended well.

Speaking of defense, that’s mainly what the Rockets have been working on the past couple of days. They haven’t played since Friday, so they used this break to work on that end of the court, as it has been a struggle so far this year.

Capela and Nurkic are normally fun to watch match up against each other. The change of the defensive mindset starts with Clint, who needs to get back to the level of play that he showed last season.

Eric Gordon has been horrible from beyond the arc to start the year. Going against a team tonight with not much guard defense, I’d like to see EG turn it around and start knocking down some shots. He is a vital player for this offense that has, like the rest of the team, been disappointing.

Next. In a Butler trade, Gordon would be included with fewer picks

Last season, one of the biggest wins of the regular season (at least to me) was the victory over the Blazers in the middle of January. James Harden was out with an injury and so was Luc Mbah a Moute. The Rockets still managed to win behind 30+ from both Chris Paul and Eric Gordon. Let’s hope that trend continues tonight and the squad can have a similar result.

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