Things don’t get much easier in November
Following their opening 11 games, they face the Raptors, Pelicans, Clippers, Mavericks, and then Pacers. The Rockets are significant underdogs in the first four contests but are surprisingly only given a 36% chance to beat the Pacers at home.
Similarly to the Jazz, the Pacers are viewed as a prime candidate to trade away key veterans but have yet to do so. If both Myles Turner and Buddy Hield are playing for Indiana come November 18th, they’ll be a tough out.
The first game the Rockets are viewed as favorites is their November 26th home match against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Still, FiveThirtyEight views this as more of a toss-up than anything, giving the Rockets a 52% chance of securing the victory.
Looking at the Rockets’ first 20 games, it’s hard to find many games where you can confidently claim a win. The best candidates for an upset are at home against the Jazz and Pacers and their November 2nd matchup with the Clippers. The Clippers have floated the idea of starting Kawhi Leonard on the bench to lessen his minutes as he comes back from an ACL injury. Opening up the chance that he or Paul George miss a game for rest.
Unfortunately, the playoff picture in both conferences appears to be so crowded that teams may be more hesitant to rest key players against the perceived bottom feeders of the league. Sweeping the season series against the Rockets could be the difference between a home playoff series and the play-in.