The Houston Rockets will be looking to win on Christmas in a rematch of last year’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Can the result be a bit different this time?
Grab some lunch and get ready to enjoy some Christmas Day basketball today, folks. The Houston Rockets will be playing the OKC Thunder at 2:00 p.m. CT and will be looking to win for the seventh time in eight games.
Their opponent is a familiar foe in the Thunder. The two teams played last year on Christmas Day, with OKC pulling out the victory 112-107. In that game, the Rockets were without star point guard Chris Paul, allowing for Russell Westbrook to go off for 31 points and 11 assists.
Unfortunately, the Rockets will be CP3-less once again for this one. He is out with another hamstring strain and will miss the next 2-4 weeks because of it. The Rockets still showed plenty of fight and defensive ability, however, against the Spurs on Saturday night, picking up the short-handed victory.
The Thunder are a whole other animal this year, though. The combination of Paul George and Russell Westbrook has been stellar so far, propelling them to a 21-11 record at this point in the year. They have been one of the teams to beat early on, with George putting up MVP-quality numbers in one of his best seasons yet.
New face in town
With no Chris Paul for the recent future, the Rockets needed to find someone to take the minutes lost. With Brandon Knight struggling to find his pre-injury form and Michael Carter-Williams being unplayable, they looked to free agency and found someone who was recently cut: Austin Rivers.
Don’t get me wrong, Rivers isn’t the best player out there. He certainly has his flaws and they very well could show during his time in Rocket red. But he is at least a guard who can play minutes for the team and be active on both ends of the court while Paul is out.
He will be suited up and ready to go for the Rockets today for the first time. I wonder how many minutes he’ll see!
Christmas Day success
Since the Rockets first acquired James Harden, they have played in four Christmas Day games and have been pretty successful in them. Last year was the first loss, so the team is 3-1 in such games.
They beat the then-good Bulls by 23 in Harden’s first year in Houston. Who remembers Omer Asik dropping 20 points and 18 rebounds against his former team? Jimmy Butler was still coming off the bench! Anyways, the Rockets also have beaten the Spurs twice on Christmas Day, a popular matchup.
Originally, I think the NBA planned for this to be a Carmelo Anthony and Thunder reunion matchup. However, that hasn’t quite worked out, as Melo is away from the team indefinitely since things didn’t work out. Still, we get to see the last two MVPs square off against each other in what should be a much better game than the first timeslot (Knicks-Bucks).
Who’s ready for a win against a tough Thunder team? That’s all I want for Christmas.