Coming off an incredible win, what can the Rockets do for an encore?
Well, spoiling the Atlanta Hawks' opening night would be a start.
The Rockets head to the ATL to take on the new-look Hawks. Granted, they didn't turn over their roster like the Rockets did (no one did), but the Joe Johnson trade combined with a Marvin Williams deal landed them some bit pieces but more importantly rid them of the albatross contract of Johnson's. Then they dealt Williams to the Jazz for Devin Harris.
Unfortunately, I missed the Detroit game due to prior engagements. At one point, I was able to glance at the score and saw 85-80 Pistons in the 4th quarter. As I had predicted a Pistons victory, I wasn't surprised. First game together, no experience, rookies, yada yada. The narrative was easy to figure out.
People say stuff about how their phone was "blowing up" or "going off." As someone who isn't very popular, I thought those were stupid expressions. When we pulled off the Harden trade, I got five text messages, mainly from friends who knew I was a huge James Harden supporter since his days at Arizona State. For comparison's sake, I got one text message when we traded for Kevin Martin.
But right after that 85-80 scoreline popped up on my phone, it absolutely went nuts.
Texts from friends, acquaintances, and a constant twitter feed absolutely destroyed my phone. Nearly 16 hours later, I'm still getting texts that got lost in cyberspace.
What an awesome game. As Jason Friedman said, we deserved this one. James Harden was everything we wanted and more. And Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik were great without even playing up to their full potential.
Now, I'm preaching patience. It's easy to get wrapped up in this and take off with it. Conversely, you shouldn't get too down if the Rockets turn in a dud in Atlanta. No team goes 82-0. And no team goes 1-81 either.
Tip off is at 6:30pm CST.
Point Guard: Jeremy Lin vs. Jeff Teague:
Is 12 and 8 setting the world on fire? Is 12 and 8 going to inspire more Time Magazine covers and keep the "Linsanity" phenomenon alive? Nope.
Is 12 and 8 still a darn good stat line? Is 12 and 8 going to win games for the Rockets? Yep.
Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. Devin Harris
We're keeping this Rush Hour thing going since it worked last time.
Also, I like "Beard the Fear."
Small Forward: Chandler Parsons vs. Kyle Korver
I gotta say that every time I see Korver, I wonder how he's still in the league. At least Ray Allen could do other things besides three pointers. His defense was okay and he could drive when he was younger. Korver has always just been an Ashton Kutcher look alike, but he just doesn't miss.
He'll be an absolute handful, and you can't rotate off him. He has to be picked up in the open floor and respected in the corners. Just his presence changes the way you play team defense. And that's a skill in and of itself.
Here's hoping the lead singer of Death Intrigues Me can stop him tonight.
Power Forward: Marcus Morris vs. Josh Smith
I'm assuming Patrick Patterson is out again tonight, though as of this writing is officially questionable. He did practice yesterday, so that's good news.
Update: Patterson will play, according to Friedman.
I understand the reasoning behind starting Morris over say, Terrence Jones. Ignoring that Jones is a rookie (and Morris basically is, too), I think it's perimeter shooting and familiarity with the system that make Morris a better option. With drive-and-kick guys like Lin and Harden, you want to spread the floor. Morris does that better than Jones does as of right now. On defense, neither are probably average, but Morris knows the system a little better.
I know he wasn't the greatest against Detroit, but don't call for Motiejunas or Jones just yet. We're not there, and when Patterson does come back that will change the dynamic once again.
I don't know what the rotation will look like, but as of right now it looks like when Morris will probably replace Cook in the nine man group. Again, it's super early and injuries will happen. Others will get their chance. Morris is getting his right now.
Josh Smith is now The Guy on this Hawks team on offense. It will interesting to see what he does and how Morris and Rockets attempt to counter him.
Center: Omer Asik vs. Al Horford
Al Horford played with Joakim Noah at Florida. Asik played with Noah in Chicago.
It's the "Guys Who Were Overshadowed By Joakim Noah" Bowl. Brought to you by Comcast.
Comcast: We Love Our Fans.
Speaking of the Comcast dispute, I think it's interesting that the NBA wants us to pay for NBA League Pass, even though if you live in Houston, the game will be blacked out. Then, when fans inevitably turn to illegal online streams, the NBA gets pissed that they aren't making money off these fans.
Well, if the networks got their shit together and didn't hold out, then no one would need to use illegal streams, now would they?
Anyway, I like Al Horford a lot. And I like him here.
Bench-still kind of a guessing game. For the Rockets, this looks like it, though.
Rockets: Toney Douglas, Carlos Delfino, Daequan Cook, Greg Smith (probable)
Hawks: Anthony Morrow, Zaza Pachulia, Johan Petro, DeShawn Stevenson, Anthony Tolliver, Lou Williams
Prediction: Hawks pull it out 101-95
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