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Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Clippers game preview

How do you know that it’s basketball season? When there’s an AK preview.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers-Media Day Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Paul’s two most recent teams meet today (tonight?) in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The game tips off at midnight CT Friday morning. The Rockets will then travel to Tokyo to take on the Toronto Raptors for a 2-game set with both matchups starting at 5am CT. So get used to the awkward start times for the upcoming week.

For today’s game, the Rockets will be without Russell Westbrook again as they work him back slowly after his arthroscopic knee surgery in the offseason. Obviously, Houston fans want to see Daryl Morey’s big acquisition in action, but with the games being meaningless, load management seems to be the best course of action.

Speaking of load management, you may have heard that Kawhi Leonard plays for the Los Angeles Clippers now.

For as much as Houston fans at least partly lament the Chris Paul acquisition because it cost the team three great role players in Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell, and Lou Williams, I find it interesting that both the Rockets and Leonard’s camp came to the same conclusion about the trio: they’re good players but you still need another star to win with them. In Houston’s case, they knew that they could get their star and then find role players later. The Clippers had the role players, but had to trade their future and a good young player (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander) to get their second star.

Anyway, Paul George will be missing the first few weeks of the season as he recovers from his own surgeries. So we might get to see a PG-Russ reunion, but it won’t happen on the court.

The common theme for Houston’s offseason will be getting the team into shape. Right now with no Russ, the team does (and should) resemble last year’s offense, possibly at a higher pace. Otherwise, it’s a chance for the last seven or so guys in camp to find their way onto the roster.

Tip-off is at 12am CT on NBA TV