Houston Rockets vs. Chicago Bulls game preview

Scott Halleran

The Rockets will look to avoid dropping back-to-back games for the first time since late January when they head to the Madhouse on Madison and face the Chicago Bulls at the United Center.

The Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers are the only two teams that haven't lost three straight games this season. That's an incredible achievement.

Looking at the Clips schedule, it's tough to see that changing for Los Angeles.

The Rockets schedule seems to have three instances where they could drop three straight, if we're being fair.

They are in one such stretch now. If the Rockets can't beat the Bulls, it's highly likely that they will drop three in a row since they'll get a Heat team bent on revenge next. Later March and early April, the Rockets have a stretch where they play the Clippers at home, go on the road for a back-to-back against the rejuvenated Nets and feisty Raptors. Then they come home and face the Thunder. The first three and last three of that stretch could also lead to a three-game losing streak. It's not likely, but it's possible.

Tonight the Rockets take on the red-hot Bulls. Chicago has suddenly become a terrifying team to deal with in the East. A few weeks ago, we thought that the only advantage to being the 1 seed in the East would be home court advantage in the ECF. Now, both the Pacers and Heat will want to avoid the 2 seed to avoid the Bulls as the three seed (assuming the Bulls pass the Raptors, who are 1.5 games ahead, which I believe they will).

The Rockets have had success over the last two years against the Bulls by overpowering Chicago and forcing them to play at the Rockets' pace. The Rockets raced ahead on Christmas Day last season and this season they dominated in Houston.

Something tells me this game will be a bit different.

Tip off is at 6:00pm CST on TNT

Matchups:

Point Guard: Patrick Beverley vs. Kirk Hinrich

These are two bulldog point guards. D.J. Augustin will also get a ton of minutes running the point and shifting Hinrich to the 2.

The Rockets need a more measured Patrick Beverley, and I think the adrenaline of the OKC game will pass.

Advantage: Rockets

Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Buckets vs...Jimmy Buckets, I guess.

I must think on this further.

Advantage: Rockets

Small Forward: Chandler Parsons vs. Mike Dunleavy

Man, I'd love to have Dunleavy on the Rockets. Of course, the only hope is that the Bulls blow it up or try to trade Dunleavy away to free up space for a run at Carmelo Anthony.

Either way, the Rockets need Parsons to push the pace, be his typical slashing self on offense and to spread the Chicago defense with his shooting.

Advantage: Rockets

Power Forward: Terrence Jones vs. Carlos Boozer

Thank God that NBA games aren't self-refereed. Otherwise, Boozer would be like the guy you play in pickup who calls a foul every time he misses. Boozer yells whenever he shoots, hoping to draw a whistle by pretending that he's being fouled. In my opinion, it's worse than flopping.

Oh, and I hate Boozer because he used to play for that team in that state that I dislike. So he's never getting an advantage here. Even if he was lining up against me.

Advantage: Rockets

Center: Dwight Howard vs. Joakim Noah

The two hottest centers in the league, and their games aren't bad either!

*rimshot*

Advantage: Even

Bench

Rockets: Jeremy Lin, Omri Casspi, Omer Asik, Donatas Motiejunas, Jordan Hamilton, Francisco Garcia

Bulls: Taj Gibson, Nazr Mohammed, Jimmer Fredette, D. J. Augustin, Tony Snell

Advantage: Bulls, barely

Prediction: Rockets win a tight one, 93-90.

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