Houston Rockets preseason tips off Monday: What to expect, how to watch

Houston Rockets (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets will make their return to the court on Monday at 8 p.m. ET against the Shanghai Sharks from the Chinese Basketball Association.

The wait for NBA action is finally almost over. The Houston Rockets will be tipping off the NBA preseason on September 30th at 8 p.m. ET as they host the Shanghai Sharks at the Toyota Center.  It will be the first time the Rockets hit the hardwood since Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Golden State Warriors last May.

The moves the Rockets made over the offseason has made the start of this season one of their most anticipated in years. The addition of veterans Ben McLemore and Tyson Chandler boosts an already deep roster while returning young talents such as Danuel House look to have a breakout season with this new-look Houston squad.

Related Story. 3 goals for Danuel House in the 2019-20 season

Of course, the biggest move the Houston Rockets made, the trade for superstar Russell Westbrook, is what has fans most excited for the upcoming season. While the NBA community is anxiously awaiting Russ’s debut as a Rocket, Coach Mike D’Antoni revealed to Rockets Insider Alykhan Bijani on Sunday that it might have to wait a bit longer:

Per Coach D’Antoni, Russell Westbrook “might not play” tomorrow in the #Rockets first preseason game, and said “we’ll see what happens.”

Before people panic, he played and scrimmaged last night in the #Rockets night practice. The plan is for him to do the same tonight.

— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) September 29, 2019

While the news may be disappointing, it isn’t completely unexpected. The preseason is generally used for figuring out rotations and seeing what the guys fighting for minutes can do. Considering Houston will have five more preseason games before the season starts, I would expect a similar situation for at least a couple of the games for Russ and Harden, if not very limited minutes.

Monday should be an opportunity for fans of the Rockets to see what the young rookies and fringe players on the team can do. Players like Isaiah Hartenstein, Ben McLemore, Gary Clark and Shamorie Ponds should all be given sufficient time to show what they can bring to the team on Monday and during the rest of the preseason games going forward.

Not much has been reported yet about Anthony Bennett‘s status for Monday, but considering he sat out training camp on Saturday, there’s a chance he may be held out for a few more days as he deals with tendonitis in his knee.

Thabo Sefolosha reportedly was not at camp on Sunday but is expected to join the team on Monday, so in all likelihood should see some minutes against Shanghai.

Thabo Sefolosha was not here, but the plan is for him to be here tomorrow. https://t.co/ui9bMwq99O

— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) September 29, 2019

While they obviously won’t be going all out and playing all starters heavily, expect Mike D’Antoni to use Monday’s game to start employing strategies to address weaknesses from last season. Everyone on the team will need to buy in to picking up the pace, crashing the boards and contesting shots better than they did last season, and that will need to be seen from day one.

Update: Rockets beat writer Jonathan Feigen has given an update on injuries for Monday’s game:

Shamorie Ponds (bruised thigh), Anthony Bennett (tendinitis) and Michael Frazier (right ankle sprain) will sit out. https://t.co/UZ33alqYtn

— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) September 30, 2019

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Houston Rockets basketball is finally back, and it couldn’t be more anticipated. You can catch the action on NBATV or locally on AT&T Sportsnet Southwest starting at 8 p.m. ET Monday night.