These teams met on Sunday night, with the Clippers healthy and with the Rockets missing Chris Paul due to suspension. Tonight, the Clippers are still healthy and the Rockets are missing their other superstar point guard with James Harden out with a strained hamstring.
By my count, the Rockets are down to 9 healthy bodies and are in desperate need of help, but I think it’s still too early for the Rockets to panic. Sure, these losses are going to hurt at the end of the season, but Houston proved last year that they could win on the road with their style of play. They won Game 4 in Minnesota, both Game 3 and 4 in Utah, and Game 4 in Golden State. They should want homecourt advantage, but it should not feel necessary if the team is humming. That’s the biggest key: getting this team humming.
If that seems impossible right now with all the injuries, that’s because it is. The Rockets will get healthy and they will figure out a fix for the defensive issues. I think trading away that much of the future is a mistake, but the window is now. One of the blessings of being a Rockets fan is that you never worry that the front office is going to make a mistake. That’s not to say Daryl Morey and co. have been perfect (they have not), but you always know that the goal is winning a championship and every move is made through that lens.
So whether a move happens or doesn’t, you can know that Houston’s decision-makers won’t quit. And that’s a nice feeling.
Prediction: The hits keep on coming. Clippers win 115-102.
Tip-off is at 7pm CT