The good news for the Rockets this season is that they're getting some tough games out of the way early:
At Cleveland? Done.
One of the two in Dallas? Won and done.
In Los Angeles in front of a crowd that yelled their butts off at Mike D'Antoni? Yep.
And they keep playing tough ones:
Tonight at MSG in front of a Knicks crowd that probably won't be kind to Pringles.
A few nights later in Atlanta against a revenge-seeking Dwight Howard.
Finally, in San Antonio where the Spurs are always amazing.
The schedule can only get easier in terms of toughies, but the Rockets have three five-game road trips this year, and they need to at least come out of each with their heads above water. On this trip, 3-2 would be great but 2-3 would be more than okay. As long as the Rockets didn't party too hard in the Big Apple last night, it's a winnable game against a 1-2 Knicks squad that lost last night in Detroit.
The Knicks probably aren't championship contenders, but things are looking up in New York. It was pretty bleak two years ago. Actually, I'll let Riley Matthews describe how bad it was.
Tip off is at 6:30pm CT
Point Guard: James Harden vs. Derrick Rose
Sure, there's a lot of talent in this Knicks starting lineup, but it's hard to see how it can work in the long run. Obviously, the injury history of D-Rose is at the forefront, but then you have to realize that you have two ball-dominant players in Rose and Melo. Then you see a young power forward that needs touches and opportunities to grow. Finally, you have a starting center that is an excellent passer and deserves to have the offense run through him on occasion. It's a tough job for Jeff Hornacek. Good thing he isn't Derek Fisher.
Shooting Guard: Eric Gordon vs. Courtney Lee
Courtney Lee kills the Rockets. He will take many pull-up long 2s. They will all go in. I will pull my hair out.
It is written.
Small Forward: Trevor Ariza vs. Carmelo Anthony
Melo will go down as one of the all-time greatest scorers in NBA history. Watching him is really something. He can do everything offensively, which doesn't really exist in today's NBA. He's a good passer without needing the drive to set up lanes and can bang down low if the mood strikes him. Ariza is going to have a tough time with him tonight, especially with how much bigger Melo is than Frieza.
Ariza will also be dealing with the five stitches he had placed under his eye during the game against Cleveland. That's always a tough place for stitches for obvious reasons, plus the face can swell up and cause irritation more than other parts of the body.
Power Forward: Ryan Anderson vs. Kristaps Porzingis
Man, these Knicks are big. Porzingis blocked 800 shots against Houston last year (as always, my stats are lies).
Ryno will have to keep him honest on defense by forcing him out of the paint. That will help open up driving lanes for Harden. You knew this already. But this is what a stretch 4 does in the NBA. It's supposed to make Harden's life easier. Now we just need everyone else to start making their 3s.
Center: Clint Capela vs. Joakim Noah
I'll call this even, but the first one to get in foul trouble loses.
This is still one of the greatest plays I've ever seen from a big man.
Rockets: Corey Brewer, Sam Dekker, K.J. McDaniels, Tyler Ennis, Nene, Montrezl Harrell
Knicks: Kyle O'Quinn, Lance Thomas, Brandon Jennings, Justin Holiday, Maurice Ndour, Sasha Vujacic, Willy Hernangomez
Prediction: Rockets too hungover, lose 112-90
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