Houston’s Road Trip from Hell continues tonight as the Rockets head to the desert to take on the reigning Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns.
Phoenix is 3-3 on the young season, but undoubtedly have dreams of getting back to the Finals and avenging last season’s loss. Currently, Deandre Ayton and Cameron Payne are questionable with a lower leg contusion and hamstring strain, respectively. In the short term, Phoenix can cover up those absences with JaVale McGee and Frank Kaminsky at center, with Elfrid Payton taking the backup point guard minutes.
For the Rockets, this game is all about building momentum from the Lakers games. The Rockets played a great fourth quarter in the first game, which definitely gave them juice in the second contest. They lost both games, but looked decidedly better than they had in most games this season.
Houston could go one of two ways here. Either they use the Lakers game to springboard their way into a little run (maybe not a winning streak, but a run of quality games), or they fall back into bad habits and sputter out like we’ve seen them do in other games during the last two seasons. Building on good games is important for a young team trying to find its identity and find roles for each player. It’s not shocking that Houston found success in a game where Danuel House Jr., Daniel Theis, and Eric Gordon were all out. That basically guaranteed that each player would get more minutes and have more of a chance to get a feel for the game. There was a lot less looking over shoulders at Staples on Monday night. That’s obviously a positive and a point in the favor of trading away vets like EG and House, but we also saw how poorly the Rockets did last year when their (lack of) depth was tested throughout the year.
Tip-off is at 9pm CT on NBA TV and AT&T SportsNet Southwest