With the Rockets schedule released yesterday and after closely studying the dates and tendencies, I have compiled a list of ten tidbits of information that every Rockets fan should know about our schedule and what makes it unique and special.
Rockets play 40 national TV games this season. (And no, that is not a typo.)
Houston is second in the NBA in nationally-televised games with forty, about 48.8% of the team’s schedule.
The Rockets are one of the NBA’s elite now. Houston should be a team popular in households across the nation. The Warriors are the only team with more national TV games with 43. This only confirms that the Rockets are one of the most exciting teams to watch in the league and the NBA wants the nation to know that, by throwing half of their games into millions of households across the country. It’s cool to realize that your team is going to be seen and hopefully appreciated by the rest of the country. I dig it.
14 back-to-backs, no 4 games in 5 nights
The league is starting eight days earlier in order to try and reduce the amount of back-to-backs and to try and cut back on the resting of stars. I don’t see how taking two back-to-backs does that, but if the NBA thinks it will work, it’s worth a shot. The Rockets had sixteen back-to-backs last year, but just fourteen this season. The NBA’s superstar resting problem is not really with Houston but if the NBA really wanted to make an impact on that, they should have added a clause in contracts that one will only be paid if they play a certain amount of games. Each player needs to reach his quota if he wants to get paid a certain amount. Or, it could be a bonus. Either way, if you dangle money in front of an NBA player, they will likely take it.
7-game homestand in December is longest of season, no road trips more than 4 games
Playing in the middle of the country has its benefits. Many teams on either coast tend to have two long opposite-coast road trips each season and teams can find ways to struggle on those trips. Houston is one of the most centrally-located teams in the league, so that is why long road trips don’t really exist. Their longest road trip takes place in early February, with trips to San Antonio, Cleveland, Brooklyn, and Miami, spanning a week. Not an easy trip, but it’s their longest nonetheless. They will see the benefits of playing seven straight at Toyota Center right before Christmas. Home contests against the Pelicans, Hornets, Spurs, Bucks, Jazz, Lakers, and Clippers might not all be home runs, but being at home will certainly give Houston the upper hand.
Rockets’ first and only visit to Oracle is opening night, October 17
Houston found a way to win at Oracle last season, being one of only five teams to accomplish the feat. Last year, the Rockets went 1-3 against the eventual champions, but this year, only three regular-season meetings will take place, and Golden State is the host for just the first meeting, on opening night. Houston will be looking on during the ring ceremony and then attempt to try and defeat the defending champions. Last year’s loser of Golden State’s opening night game won the championship, so Houston might get lucky. If they don’t lose however, it will be a great start to the season.
Rockets face Sixers twice before Halloween
I am buying in to Philadelphia’s hype. Playing the Sixers twice in the first eight games of the season could be troublesome because this is when Philly will be at their healthiest. Play them a couple months down the line and they could be banged up and come at you with an incomplete lineup. Facing a full and healthy Sixers lineup on paper is not something I would want to do. I do think the Rockets could sweep them, but it would not surprise me if the Sixers swoop in and sweep themselves.
Rockets-Grizzlies divisional series ends November 18
Last year, I found it odd that Houston’s four games with the Mavericks were completed before the end of December. This year, the NBA has outdone themselves by giving the Rockets a date with the Memphis Grizzlies in four of their first seventeen contests. By the time the series is over, Houston will have basically a fourth of its schedule with meetings with Memphis. I am not sure of the motivation behind stuffing the front of the schedule with a divisional rival, but hey, I’m for it. Memphis is always a team that gives Houston a good run for their money each time they are out there. Let’s get rid of these games as quick as possible please.
Beverley, Dekker, Harrell, Lou Williams return to Toyota Center December 22
The gang we sent to LA comes home right before Christmas to say hello to the home fans. I assume Beverley will be given a standing ovation and a roar of cheers, but I can’t say the same for the others. Dekker will receive a warm reception, and Harrell has not done anything to not receive a bad one. However, the boos will come for Sweet Lou. Why you might ask?
Thanx houston for the love. But let's pretend like those 3 months didn't happen. No harm No foul lol.— Lou Williams (@TeamLou23) June 28, 2017
Lou wants you to forget he ever stepped into Houston. Don’t let him forget.
This is also Chris Paul’s first game against his former team, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute as well. Can’t forget LMAM. It’s their first shot at revenge.
Chris Paul returns to Staples Center on MLK Day
Bev and Co. will get their chance to return home late in December, but CP3 will get his chance on January 15, when he faces the Clippers as a visitor for the first time in six years. I am surprised the NBA did not allow CP3 the chance to return before Beverley, but the NBA Schedule Gods have a method to their madness. Nonetheless, I bet this was the first date Chris Paul circled on his calendar upon learning of the Rockets schedule.
7 of 9 after the All-Star Break are road games, hardest part of schedule
The toughest stretch of the schedule begins after the All-Star Break. Houston gets a home game against Minnesota, but then they face a Nuggets-Jazz road back-to-back, Clippers two nights later, a one-game homestand against Boston, then back out on the road to face OKC, Milwaukee, Toronto, and Dallas. Then, after that’s over, Spurs on the second half of a back-to-back with Dallas. That stretch coming out of the All-Star Game could make a huge impact on the standings and it is important that the Rockets hold their own on that trip.
Last two games to end season are very winnable
The Rockets have a tough schedule, but they were granted a gift at the end of the season. Their fourteenth and final back-to-back is on the road, but it pits them against the Lakers and Kings, two teams that will likely be tanking at the end of the season. If Houston needs two wins to pull themselves into a necessary seed, they have got it. They should not have a problem taking care of these two teams. Even if they can rest their guys for the playoffs, they could still win these contests in the season’s eleventh hour. These last two games are a nice little bow on the gift that is the 2017-18 schedule.