1. 6 game stretch from Mar. 23 to Apr. 2
The Rockets will open this six-game stretch between Mar. 23 and Apr. 2 with a five game road trip starting in Dallas. After a match with one of their Texas rivals, the Rockets will take on the Bucks in Milwaukee on Mar. 25, then Indiana on Mar. 27, Detroit on Mar. 29 and end their road trip in Philadelphia on Mar. 31 before returning home to take on the Warriors on Apr. 2.
This six game stretch doesn’t contain as many games against potential contenders as the previous ones, but a five-game road trip is never easy. The Mavs won’t be amongst the top teams in the league next year, but they did manage to split their season series with Houston 2-2 last year and they should be better this season after adding Kristaps Porzingis.
The Bucks finished with the league’s best record last season with 60 wins. They did lose Malcolm Brogdon, but they kept their other main players and the additions of Kyle Korver and Wesley Matthews will provide additional spacing for Khris Middleton and The Greek Freak. The Rockets lost both of their games against Milwaukee last season.
Next, the Rockets will face the Pacers in Indianapolis and the Pistons in Detroit. While the Pistons aren’t exactly a very good team, Houston did lose in their only trip to Detroit last season. Then, the Rockets will end their road trip in Philly, against a 76ers team who lost Jimmy Butler, but added Josh Richardson and Al Horford. Houston lost their only game in Philadelphia by 28 points last season.
Finally, the Rockets will return home on Apr. 2 for a dance with the Warriors, who should be at full strength by this time after the return of Klay Thompson. Add D’Angelo Russell, who averaged 21.1 points and 7.0 assists last season, to Golden State’s core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green and you have a very talented and dangerous team.
By this point in the season, Russell Westbrook should be fully acclimated to the team and this is where the Rockets will play their best basketball as they prepare for the playoffs. On this six-game stretch, the Rockets will drop at least one game, likely against either Milwaukee or Philly, but I think they’ll win the rest.