Normally, I’d say that this portends a Rockets blowout win, but we all know better than that. Basketball can be an odd game, and the regular season always has a bunch of funky results (see: Christmas Day).
The Hawks are 8-29 and in the midst of a season which will likely end in a top 5 pick. Much like the Philadelphia 76ers or Houston Astros, this method has been shown to work if your front office isn’t incredibly inept. I still and will forever blame the Hawks for allowing Luka Doncic to end up in Dallas, but Trae Young has proven that he can be a superstar in the NBA and that’s probably enough to make you believe that the Hawks’ front office has some idea of what they’re doing.
Atlanta is 2-2 in their last four games, with the two losses being close affairs against the Celtics and Nuggets. The wins were against the Magic and Pacers, so they’ve proven that they can beat good teams. Against the Nuggets, for example, Young had a +/- of +7 but the team lost by 8. Denver took advantage of his time on the bench and outscored the Hawks by 15 over those nine minutes. That has to be Houston’s strategy as well.
For Houston, they might be rusty after having four days off. It’s an odd break followed immediately by a back-to-back, so we’ll see how the Rockets handle it. With this being the start of a back-to-back, it’s possible that Russell Westbrook will miss one of the two games, but since the second game is in Oklahoma City, my guess is that Russ won’t want to miss his homecoming game. I’m terrified of what he’ll try to do in that game, but for now it will be interesting to see how Mike D’Antoni utilizes his second star.
Tip-off is at 6:30pm CT