Originally, this game looked like it would be a nice reprieve for the Rockets. After opening with six games against Western Conference foes with playoff aspirations, it would be nice to get an “easy” game against the Brooklyn Nets, an Eastern Conference squad just trying to rebuild.
Of course, things look a little differently now than they did this summer. The Rockets have been broken by injury and an inability to assimilate new personnel. Meanwhile, the Nets are 3-5 and might start to believe they’re a playoff team if they can stick around in the East long enough. It’s a long season and anything can happen.
To be fair to the Nets, Brooklyn gave Houston trouble last year. The Rockets won both by double digits, so you would be forgiven for thinking that I’m full of crap, but both games were close until the fourth quarter. In a season where Houston routinely put good teams away early in the second half, it was striking to see the Nets hanging with the Rockets for large swaths of action.
The Nets are a fun team with plenty of youth. Spencer Dinwiddie can do a bit of everything and could get a big payday this summer. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert are finding themselves as youngsters, and Jarrett Allen seems to have one highlight reel block per game.
The Rockets are playing like a team of losers right now. This has been an opportunity for guys like Eric Gordon, Carmelo Anthony, and Michael Carter-Williams to step up and help the team, but all have been hindrances to the winning cause. Even Chris Paul looks like a shell of the player that the Rockets had last season. If those trends continue, it’s difficult to see this team winning 30 games even with James Harden, much less 50 or more. I’m not sure if a trade for Jimmy Butler cures those ills.
Tip-off is at 6:30pm CT