It's pretty strange that in the last preview AK went on about witnessing a live birth. Strange because since reading that I can't shake an image of a baby James Harden born with a full beard covered in vernix fluid, also strange because just last week my long time girlfriend told me she's carrying our first child. She's nine weeks along. We're pretty excited.
Moving along, at 5-3, the Rockets are off to as good as start since the 2009-2010 season when they finished 42-40 and just barely missed the playoffs. Yet if you believe the vitriol out there, you'd think the Rockets started the season 0-24. Through the first eight games we've seen flashes of what works and what doesn't but the sample size is still way too small to jump to any conclusions.
Not to get too "Inside Basketball" on you, but this early on we can only make a few level assumptions. Look for Asik and Howard to be on the court together for a decent amount of time. Harden will score a lot of points. And Chandler Parsons will probably do some Chandler Parsons things.
However, the Philadelphia 76ers present an interesting situation. They've cooled a bit after a 3-0 that included unexpected wins over Miami and Chicago but have since lost four of their last five. Philly's success early on was no surprise to anyone who has been following the Rockets these last few years. Last year the Sixers led the league in crappy, ill-advised mid-range shots but so far rank near the bottom of the NBA this year in the same category and are currently ranked third in pace in the NBA. Simply, the Sixers won games early by playing fast and taking smart shots. Surely former Morey acolyte Sam Hinkie has something to do with this.
TIP OFF: 7 PM ET, CSN (Which means no one will probably see this game either)
Patrick Beverly v. Michael Carter Williams
MCW has been off to a promising start with a Sixers team that really has no expectations from him other than "don't get hurt." Through eight games MCW is averaging 17.4/7.6/5.4 but is coming off an pretty abysmal eight point game against the Spurs where he had some trouble finishing at the rim. That task likely wont get better with Howard and Asik protecting the rim at all times. Even with Beverly still nursing an injury I'd still take the Pat.
James Harden v. James Anderson
Hey, isn't that whats-his-face from last year?
Chandler Parsons v. Evan Turner
Turner has been a bright spot for the Sixers averaging 23 PPG and 50.7 shooting, well above his career numbers of 10.5 ppg and 43.3. The Sixers new approach has probably benefited Turner more than anyone. He's been taking most of his shots either by driving to the basket or scoring in transition.
Omer Asik and Dwight Howard v. Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes
Individually both Asik and Howard are far superior to Young and Hawes. But one of the most discussed topics around here has been how lack luster this Twin Tower thing has been so far. The Rockets will be extremely vulnerable to the Sixer's fast pace and clever shot selection if these two stay on the court too long but they won't so there shouldn't be too much need to panic.
Royce White v. The NBA
Key Bench Players:
Houston: Lin, Frankie Garcia, T-Jones, Omri Casspi, ABZ
Philly: Lavoy Allen, Brandon Davies, Tony Wrotten, Jason Richardson
Prediction: By all reasonable basketball projections, tonight's contest should bring few complications and a victory for Houston. They'll probably cover the spread too.