The Rockets desperately need a win tonight.
Inasmuch as every game feels like a must-win for Houston, home games against teams with equivalent records are paramount for Houston. We've reached the point of the season where the better teams are winning the vast majority of games. As teams have figured out their identities we're going to see less and less variation like we do at the beginning of the season.
Tonight's contest is huge for both squads. The Pistons dropped a tough game against the Bulls after demolishing the Warriors. The Rockets just lost in exhausting fashion to the Clippers on the road.
We pretty much know who the Rockets are at this point. They're good enough to beat anyone but they aren't great enough to beat the teams they should beat, including teams with similar records when they get to play them at Toyota Center. Last year we would have seen this as a likely win. Now? It will probably be really close.
Point Guard: Patrick Beverley vs. Reggie Jackson
Jackson wanted to run an offense and he got that opportunity with Detroit. In addition to averaging 19 points per contest, Jackson is dishing up just under 7 assists while pulling down about 4 boards a game. He'll initiate the offense and we'll quickly see if Darren's take that the Rockets are missing a perimeter defender is true. For sure, Beverley will have his hands full tonight.
Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
KCP was about the only Piston to have a bad game against Houston in the first go-around.
But wait, James Harden was probably guarding him. So how is that possible?
I just don't know anymore.
Anyway, Caldwell-Pope is shooting above 50% from the field overall during his last 4 games and is averaging 15 points per game. If he gets going the Rockets could be in for a rough night.
Small Forward: Trevor Ariza vs. Marcus Morris
The difference between the Marcus Morris we saw in Houston and the Marcus Morris we see in Detroit aren't too different. Really, the only difference is that Morris has a higher usage rate in Detroit. On a team with the talent that Detroit has, you have to wonder why Morris is jacking up 12 attempts per game. He's shooting his lowest percentage since he was in Houston and shooting considerably worse from distance.
It always felt like the Morris twins killed the Rockets whenever they were in Phoenix. At least the days of them tag-teaming the Rockets are over.
Power Forward: Clint Capela vs. Ersan Ilyasova
Stretch fours kill the Rockets.
Ersan Ilyasova is a stretch four.
Ersan Ilyasova will kill the Rockets.
Center: Dwight Howard vs. Andre Drummond
Dwight Howard is on a 10-game streak of double-doubles and holds the highest active streak.
But Andre Drummond has been doing it all season.
Besides averaging a ridiculous 18/16 on the year, Drummond dropped 24/13 on the Rockets despite missing 14 free throws. I don't know if the torch has been passed yet from Howard to Drummond, but at the very least Howard is leaning over to give Drummond something. What's crazy is that Drummond is 22 years old and has a bright future ahead of him.
Rockets: Ty Lawson, Jason Terry, Marcus Thornton, Corey Brewer, Terrence Jones, Montrezl Harrell
Pistons: Anthony Tolliver, Stanley Johnson, Aron Baynes, Brandon Jennings
Pistons vs Rockets coverage