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Houston Rockets vs. Indiana Pacers Preseason Game Previews

The Rockets take on the Pacers on Thursday in the Philippines and Sunday in Taiwan.

Dwight Howard was NOT ejected in his first preseason game. Sorry haters.
Dwight Howard was NOT ejected in his first preseason game. Sorry haters.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Both teams are coming off tough losses in their first game, so look for them to come out gunning for a-wait it's still preseason. My bad.

TDS didn't get a recap up for the Pelicans game, so I'll put some of my thoughts here. Again, it's preseason so no jumping the gun on the fringe players.

1. The starters looked GREAT. I mean, it really clicked for them. Howard looked healthy and comfortable with the ball in the post, Parsons slashed and did Parsons things, Harden was awesome and even played some defense, and Lin was ultra-aggressive and confidently stroked a triple. These four looked fantastic and they are already firing on multiple cylinders. It's very telling that all 4 of the core starters finished with a +/- in double digits.

2. As for Donatas Motiejunas, he looked a little passive and was taken advantage of by Anthony Davis. There's no shame in that, and it's still early for D-Mo. It will get better, and he won't be facing a player with Davis' quickness and skill set every night. Finishing with 4/6/3 is a decent stat line but fouling out in 24 minutes is no way to get the coaching staff on your side, especially with the new emphasis on defense.

3. I said the backup PF might average more points than the starting PF, and through one meaningless preseason game, I'm right. Terrence Jones had himself a game.

4. Patrick Beverley did Jrue Holiday up dirty. What transpired in the fourth quarter between the two was filthy and deserves an R rating. Bev was all over Holiday and picked his pocket four times, though it seemed like way more.

5. I spoke to a few people who watched the 15+ minutes of scrimmage that Clutch Fans posted last week (much love to Clutch for getting that footage-it was awesome). One of the sentiments coming away from that was that Omri Casspi looked bad and lost. Well, throw that out the window. Casspi was 9-10 (with the lone miss being a last-second heave to try to send the game to OT) in full PLAYA FROM JUDEA mode and looked great. I don't know if he'll make the team, but even if he does it's going to be tough for him to crack the rotation. He did a solid Delfino impression though.

6. BUT...even with Bev, Jones, and Casspi playing great they finished -8. -9, and -12 respectively. Why? Because the backups played no defense. It's crazy to think Casspi put up 20 points in 20 minutes and still went -12. Crazy.

7. Where have we seen poor bench defense before? Last year, that's where. Too bad we don't have a solid big man backup to patrol the paint when Dwight is sitting. Too bad we traded Asik for a shoot-first PF who doesn't defend at all. Wait, we didn't do that? Sweet! If you had any questions as to why the Rockets want to keep Asik around, this game tells the story. Yes, it's preseason. But the Rockets had a huge drop off in defense between the starters and bench last season, and that looks to be partially shored up by Asik.

8. Ronnie Brewer looked lost and that's to be expected since he joined the team later than everyone else over the summer. He's never going to be expected to contribute a lot with this group, but he's got to show us more than he did Saturday. To be fair, the Jazz stink hasn't faded. And yes, I said a few years ago that if the Rockets employed a former Jazz player I would say the Rockets were playing 4-on-5 whenever that player was on the court. Well, Brewer made it seem like the Rockets literally had four players on the court.

9. Isaiah Canaan and Aaron Brooks both played fewer than 8 minutes and neither scored a basket. I still expect Canaan to be a Viper this season. Brooks coughed up the ball 4 times, which is about once every two minutes or once every three possessions. Um, less of that please.

10. Robert Covington has a nice stroke and looked plenty confident, which is paramount at this stage. His only made shot was a putback dunk after the Casspi miss at the end of regulation, but all-in-all he looked good. Defense was a problem though.

11. Not much from this game changed my perspective on the season. The only real takeaways are that the starters looked good together and put forth effort on defense. Now we need to see if they can do it for 82 regular season games plus the playoffs (knock on wood). In terms of rotation battles, Casspi announced himself but we'll see if that was a fluke or not. He's not a two so his only way into the rotation is through Francisco Garcia, who is a better defender and spot-up shooter, both qualities the Rockets need from their backup three. The Rockets could go with Bev-Garcia-Casspi-Jones-Asik for stretches, but there isn't much offensive creation there so we're unlikely to see it barring Jones becoming an absolute beast. More than likely Harden will play with that group, or maybe Lin at times.

12. If I hear one more time that Dwight Howard was ejected from this game, I'm going to break something. He was not ejected. Please stop talking about how this is "the same old Dwight" and "HAHA Rockets he's your problem now!" Yeah, he's our "problem." A problem we'll take all the way to the bank.

As for the upcoming games against the Pacers, the start times are Thursday at 6:30am CST and Sunday at 12:30am CST. Please note the AM start times. You'll have to wake up early Thursday morning to catch that game before work/school. And you'll probably have to stay up late Saturday night to catch the Sunday game. Hopefully this makes it easier for some of our international viewers to watch the game, though it might just make things worse. And yes, make your CSN Houston jokes about never being able to watch the games, but for those who stream the games through less-than-legal methods, at least you can do so at a reasonable hour during the season rather than games starting at 2am. Take this time to appreciate the hardships of being a Rockets (or NBA) fan outside the United States.

The Pacers will be a better test for the starters as Indiana is a much better defensive team with the ability to take away the Rockets' first, second, and third options. The Pacers really are a matchup problem for the Rockets because Hibbert can defend Howard, George can defend Harden, and Hill can defend Lin. This will show us a bit more about this team as it will force Parsons and D-Mo to take on a little more of a role. I'd also like to see the backups play better defense, but that really is all circumstantial based on matchups and combinations on the floor, so I'm not expecting a huge improvement. Most guys are trying to showcase their offensive skill sets and that's understandable.