Houston Rockets looking for revenge as they host Magic

Can the Houston Rockets' Jalen Green lead his team to victory tonight?
Can the Houston Rockets' Jalen Green lead his team to victory tonight? / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

The 2023-24 NBA season is almost over. Look how far we've come. At this stage, it's time to look back on the year.

If you're a Houston Rockets fan, you may not want to look back all the way. The season got off to a dubious beginning. The Rockets opened 2023-24 with a harrowing 116-86 loss to the Orlando Magic.

Tonight, the Rockets can reap revenge. They'll be hosting the Magic in their last home game of the season. With the benefit of hindsight, we can make an educated guess about what could happen tonight.

Houston Rockets prepare for mirror match

In some respects, the Rockets are the Magic of the West - or are the Magic the Rockets of the East? Either way, there are parallels to be drawn between these two squads.

To begin with, they're both rebuilding squads on the upswing of the rebuilding cycle. Orlando is built around the young duo of Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner, with plenty of young talent supporting them. With that said, there's a more specific similarity between these two groups.

The Magic rank 22nd in the NBA in Offensive Rating at 113.1. At 20th (113.5), the Rockets aren't much better. Both of these teams are built around a defensive identity. The Magic rank third in Defensive Rating (110.6) where the Rockets land 10th (112.9).

Congratulations - you're a math wiz. The Magic's Net Rating of 2.5 is significantly stronger than the Rockets' 0.6 mark. The Rockets are underdogs in this matchup.

Is there anything to level the playing field?

Houston Rockets opponent may be shorthanded

We'll see.

As of this writing, Franz Wagner is questionable with an ankle injury. Jonathan Isaac (back) is a game-time decision as well. The Magic are a weaker team without either of them.

Wagner's value is obvious - he's one of this team's primary offensive options. Don't sell Isaac short, either. He's one of the best defenders in the NBA, and his resurgence in 2023-24 has been critical to Orlando's stopping prowess.

Sure, the Rockets will be without Alperen Sengun and Tari Eason. They've gotten used to those absences. By contrast, the Magic will need to adjust if either of these forwards are absent.

That could provide an opportunty for the Rockets to bring 2023-24 full circle.