There is a 0% chance that the Rockets win this game. In fact, I am so certain of this being an L for Houston, that I will promise to write a mailbag preview by the end of December if they win. Those things are usually around 5000 words and an absolute pain in the ass to write, so you can tell that I’m pretty confident in this prediction.
It feels like the first matchup between these teams was ages ago, but it was about five weeks ago. The Rockets would drop their fourth straight game in a 104-85 blowout, but in reality the Blazers game was a harbinger of how teams would work over the Rockets. Portland was the first team to truly attack Houston from the perimeter using its skilled guards in Voldemort and C.J. McCollum. Portland’s starters obliterated Houston’s starters, with four of the Blazers’ starting unit finishing with +/- of at least +20.
With James Harden out, Chris Paul led Houston with 17 points on 6-19 shooting. He had a +/- of -18. Houston’s “best” starter in terms of +/- was P.J. Tucker, who had a cool -11. Carmelo Anthony went 2-12 from the field. Clint Capela was 2-7 from the free throw line. Yes, it was that ugly. Eric Gordon shot 4-18. Houston as a team shot 32% overall. Zhou Qi made a shot though!
It doesn’t really matter who starts for the Rockets at this point. The team is treading water and in need of a jolt in some way. I’m not sure that Gordon starting over James Ennis III is going to be that jolt, but I’ve been wrong before. This time, though, I’m betting a lot of my free time on it.
Prediction: Blazers win by 25.
Tip-off is at 7pm CT on NBA TV