Rockets News

Houston Rockets: Upcoming schedule will be a test for the team

By Michael Knight
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 04: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets shakes hands with Carmelo Anthony #7 against the Indiana Pacers at Toyota Center on October 4, 2018 in Houston, Texas. 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 Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 04: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets shakes hands with Carmelo Anthony #7 against the Indiana Pacers at Toyota Center on October 4, 2018 in Houston, Texas. 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 Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Houston Rockets will begin a stretch that sees them play some great teams over the next couple of weeks. It will be a great test for them as they try to improve from a slow start.

Beginning tonight, the Houston Rockets will play nine teams in a row that currently have a record of at least .500. They will visit the current third seed in the Eastern Conference, the 7-3 Indiana Pacers, tonight to start that stretch.

The schedule then goes like this: @ OKC (4-4), @ SAS (6-3), vs. IND (7-3), @ DEN (8-1), vs. GS (9-1), vs. SAC (6-4), vs. DET (4-4), @ DET (4-4). Needless to say, this will be quite a test for the Rockets that has started out a disappointing 1-5.

The Rockets are coming off of a back-to-back sweep of the Nets and the Bulls. Those aren’t the most impressive opponents in the league, but it’s nice to get back in the win column after the rough beginning.

Health

One of the key issues during this first part of the season has been the health of the players. James Harden has missed three games due to a hamstring injury, as has James Ennis. Some of the role players (Nene, Brandon Knight, Marquese Chriss) have also missed some time early this year.

Chris Paul was suspended for a couple of games as well after an altercation with the Lakers, which certainly didn’t help the team’s chances. Overall, when both CP3 and Harden play, the Rockets are 2-1, with the lone loss coming on the first game of the year.

Now, Eric Gordon is starting to miss some games. He was out last game against the Bulls and he’ll be out once again tonight in Indy. Let’s hope that he recovers quickly, as the Rockets have hardly been at full strength this season.

A tough part of the tough schedule

The upcoming schedule is already tough, but there’s a particularly more difficult section of it that will be interesting to watch.

The Rockets will play the Indiana Pacers next Sunday at home, at the Denver Nuggets a mile high next Tuesday and finish off the stretch by playing the defending champion Golden State Warriors on next Thursday.

The defense will have to be clicking better by then, for sure. They seem to be on an upward trend, allowing just 101 points per game over the past few contests, including just 88 to the Bulls. When Jeff Bzdelik comes back, and he is, thankfully, we can expect to see the improved play on that end of the court.

Bzdelik has agreed to a deal for rest of the season, but won’t return full-time to Rockets until near the end of the month, league source tells ESPN. He will make an appearance for a brief time with group before then. https://t.co/Nm0lpwpP2L

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 5, 2018

Prove something

If the Rockets want to prove to the rest of the league that they are truly the team that they were expected to be, doing well on this part of the schedule is imperative. These are some very winnable games that would be great to add to their resume.

Next. The Rockets should consider trading for Kyle Korver

The last three games are against two teams that are likely overachieving at this point, the Kings and the Pistons. These games should all be wins to end this stretch.

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