I'm sticking with Patrick's format because you can't possibly beat the Wednesday we just had.
The Rockets have a longer winning streak against the Nets than any other team in the NBA. For years, this was because the Nets weren't very good, but the Rockets blew out the Nets earlier this season in Houston despite Deron Williams going crazy in the first quarter.
In fact, the Nets are fourth in the East, with the 2-6 spots separated by a measly 3.5 games.
Meanwhile, the Rockets are sitting in 8th place and are 3.5 games ahead of the Lakers, who have now overtaken the Blazers for the 9th spot. We know they're coming, but we have to keep holding them off. At the same time, the Rockets should and could have their sights realistically set on the 6 seed, which is currently only two games away.
It just seems like we're getting back into that "no one in the West ever loses" phase of the season. Besides the Thunder, the top 9 teams are all on winning streaks of at least one and are 6-4 or better in their last 10.
So as you can probably tell, tonight's game and tomorrow's against the Wizards are vitally important. The Rockets have to win at least one of them, and really could try to grab them both. The changing of the rotation might change that a bit, so temper your expectations just a bit. Thomas Robinson isn't a superstar yet people.
Tip-off at 6:30pm CST.
PG: Jeremy Lin vs. Deron Williams
Hey, if we get that Jeremy Lin every night I'd give him the advantage every night. As it stands, I see the Nets' point guard doing a bit of damage again tonight, but nothing like the 20 points he scored in the first quarter against the Rockets last time.
For Jeremy, the key is to get the ball and get on the break. The Nets were killed in the middle quarters last time because they couldn't keep up. Last week they played the Spurs and had a double digit lead in the third quarter, but were outscored 60-29 in the second half and the Spurs won by 25 after the Spurs finally pushed the tempo. If the Rockets want any chance of winning this, they'll need to rebound well then get the ball going in transition.
SG: James Harden vs. Joe Johnson
*Watches James Harden highlights against the Thunder*
*Sees Joe Johnson's name*
*Is at first worried because Johnson can light it up, especially in iso situations*
*Re-watches Harden vs. Thunder highlights*
SF: Carlos Delfino vs. Gerald Wallce
This is a bit odd, since Parsons normally starts here. But Parsons is more of a 4 than Delfino and McHale has said it's unlikely that the new guys play tonight. Before you go crazy, realize that that is an understandable decision and that it takes time to learn the system.
Since it's a back-to-back, I expect maybe Robinson and Garcia to see sparing minutes tomorrow just to get them some run and give the starters a little break.
Delfino won't be asked to anything different. Just defend well and shoot the three.
Deleting Patrick Patterson's name from the preview was not fun, but had to be done. Also, since I'm using Patrick's format from last time I can highlight this statement from before Wednesday's trade.
Let's hope Patrick Patterson breaks out of his slump soon because I'm pretty sure that the deadline won't yield much fruit in terms of power forwards for the Rockets.
Sorry Patrick. Had to.
Tonight Omer Asik has to be a beast once again. Last time against the Nets he grabbed 19 rebounds and was a big reason why the Rockets won. The entire fast break starts with Asik and we need him always hitting the glass and defending the paint.
Lopez deservedly was an All-Star, but I think Asik does just as much for the Rockets as Lopez does for the Nets, and that's including Asik's negligible input on offense.
The Nets will send out Andray Blatche and Kris Humphries when the bigs need breathers. For the Rockets, there's really only Greg Smith and the relatively untested Donatas Motiejunas, so look out for that.
Keith Bogans, C.J. Watson, and MarShon Brooks will also get time for the Nets. The Rockets will have to rely once again on Patrick Beverly and James Anderson, with maybe some help from Terrence Jones if the emergency arises. Remember, the Rockets traded three rotational pieces and only had two backups immediately available. Though that hurts now, once the dust settles the Rockets will probably have come out ahead.
Advantage: Nets due to the craziness of the Rockets' bench situation
The teams are relatively even overall, with the Nets having a bit more stability on their side right now, which could change this game. I've got the Nets with a 108-99 win.
What say you? Will Harden go nuts again or will the Rockets run into a wall tonight in Brooklyn?