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3 questions heading into Rockets vs. Magic duel

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets drives to the basket while defended by Nikola Vucevic #9 of the Orlando Magic (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets drives to the basket while defended by Nikola Vucevic #9 of the Orlando Magic (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets defends Nikola Vucevic #9 of the Orlando Magic (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

3. Will the Rockets be able to slow down Nikola Vucevic?

Nikola Vucevic has long been one of the more underrated players in the NBA, as evident by the fact that he’s only been named to one All-Star team in the less competitive Eastern Conference. Vucecic has never been named to an All-NBA team, which is further proof of how he hasn’t exactly gotten the attention that many others around the league have.

Vucevic has upped his level of play even more during the 2020-21 season, as he’s currently averaging 21 points per game, which is a career-high, and is shooting a scorching 44.2 percent from deep, which is also a career-best. But it doesn’t stop there, as the USC product has a player efficiency rating of 25.8, which is better than the likes of LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, and Damian Lillard.

The Rockets have struggled mightily against dominant big men, as they were gashed by Domantas Sabonis in their last match to the tune of 22 points and 12 rebounds and were dominated by Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic, who capped off the night with a triple-double, hauling in 19 points, 18 assists, and 12 rebounds. The Rockets also allowed Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes to average 21.5 points and 7.5 rebounds, while Barnes also made 55 percent of his shots and 44 percent of his threes.

The Rockets also allowed Richaun Holmes to drop a statline of 22 points and 13 rebounds in their first match against the Kings. It’s no secret, but the Rockets won’t have a chance against Orlando if they allow Vucevic to get off like they’ve allowed other bigs to do.

Next: No. 2

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