As Darren mentioned yesterday, this game is clearly a measuring stick for Houston moving forward. Houston has played ten games this season and the eleventh game won’t determine whether or not they are a good team, but it will show how they stack against the team that many consider the favorites in the Western Conference and the entire NBA.
This game is comes at an odd time for both teams on the injury front. The Clippers will soon get their second superstar back when Paul George makes his debut after two shoulder surgeries this summer. While there was belief he would play against Houston, it now appears that he will make his debut tomorrow against the Pelicans. That could likely be due to Kawhi Leonard being unable to play back-to-backs yet. This way, the Clips can have one star in each game.
The Clippers will also be without Landry Shamet after the young guard suffered a Grade 2 ankle sprain. He should be back to full health soon but the Clippers have proven prudent with their injuries and the bet here is that they will ease Shamet back appropriately.
The Rockets just got bad news of their own. Eric Gordon will need six weeks to recover from a surgery to clean out his knee. While Gordon was struggling early in the year, the New Orleans game showed us a glimpse of the EG of yesteryear. It’s a shame that he’s going to be out for a while, but hopefully he can come back healthier and play well upon his return. The Rockets need him in April, May, and (hopefully) June. Additionally, Danuel House Jr. is doubtful after taking a rough fall in New Orleans.
The Rockets will have to lean heavily on James Harden once again, but The Beard has proven that he’s always up for the challenge. Russell Westbrook will have ample opportunity to prove himself to still-doubting Rockets fans. Mike D’Antoni will have to figure out a way to replace EG’s minutes with some combination of Austin Rivers and...yeah I’m not sure he knows how to expand the rotation beyond that.
Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, and Montrezl Harrell always have something extra when they play Houston. The Rockets especially have no answer for Harrell. And cue the “I wish we had those three instead of Chris Paul/Russell Westbrook” people ignoring the fact that Houston had no chance of winning a title with those three.
Tip-off is at 6:30pm CT on ESPN