Paul George will probably come back tonight.
Every superstar makes their return against the Rockets. It's like they look at their team's upcoming schedule, see Houston coming up and go "There it is!" Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka will return from injury when OKC takes on the Rockets. So what the Thunder shut down KD for the year? He'll be there.
Now, all of that was a grim exaggeration, but Houston has to be ready for the possibility of George returning tonight. Reports say he'll return within a week, and Indy doesn't have another home game until Sunday. So tonight, in front of thousands of raucous fans, would be the perfect time to start giving him some limited minutes. And hopefully his return can stop the 5-game slide that the Pacers are on while simultaneously pushing Indiana back into the playoff picture.
And you know what? I hope he does play tonight. Or soon. His story has been awesome to follow and I can't wait to see the reaction he gets from fans all over the league when he sets foot back on the hardwood.
Tip off is at 6pm CST.
Point Guard: Patrick Beverley vs. George Hill
I know the Pacers have lost 5 straight, but it's hard to fault George Hill. During that stretch, he's averaging 21/5/3 on 57% shooting from the field. If he could shoot the 3 better he would be considered one of the best point guards in the game.
Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. C.J. Miles
Harden has to bounce back, but C.J. Miles spacing the floor and hitting 3s won't help.
The Beard had a huge game against Indiana last time (45p/7a/4stl) and Houston will need more from him once again. It's tough for Harden to have to bring his A game every single night, but that's what Houston needs from him and that's what he's brought.
Small Forward: Trevor Ariza vs. Solomon Hill
Solomon and George aren't the same at all, but I would guess that having two players with the same last night is a nightmare for announcers. Just like Chandler and Chandler in Dallas.
This Hill had a solid 13/3/3/2 against the Rockets in Houston, so he'll need to be watched.
On the other side, we're slowly seeing the Trevor Ariza we wanted all year to emerge. More aggressive on offense and still shutting down fools, Ariza is peaking at the right time for Houston. Now if everyone else could do the same.
Power Forward: Donatas Motiejunas vs. David West
Expect switches here. Dorsey on West probably makes more sense, but in reality the Rockets might wish they had two Dorseys on defense tonight because West and Hibbert are going to be handfuls for the Rockets' decimated interior.
Center: Joey Dorsey vs. Roy Hibbert
Seriously, Dorsey is the most underappreciated Rocket. He does all sorts of things that help the team win and even flashed a couple of nice post moves in the last two games. He's never going to be Dream on offense or Dream on defense, but that's not fair to ask of the guy who was brought in to play around 10 minutes a night at most.
Yes, Daryl Morey has some work to do this offseason. While a lot of TDSers and Rockets fans in general are calling for a new point guard, I think that Houston's biggest hole is the backup center position. Obviously a lot of that will come down to how much Morey pays Brewer and Smith (if he pays them at all). But I think that Dorsey would become one of the best third-string centers in the league and would be a guy who wouldn't freak you out if he became the backup due to the injury for stretches. It's just that Houston has no buffer between him and Dwight right now other than hoping that D-Mo can plug the middle. Maybe Capela can be that guy, but we're too far out to say if he can do what Houston demands of their center.
That's a long way of saying that you guys are being a little unfair to a guy that is getting a minimum contract.
Rockets: Propeller Plane, Josh Smith, Corey Brewer, Pablo Prigioni
Pacers: Luis Scola, Damjan Rudez, Ian Mahinmi, Rodney Stuckey, C.J. Watson
Prediction: Rockets bounce back, win a 92-87 slugfest.
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