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Rockets vs. Thunder game preview: opening night in March

NBA: Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight’s game is the official reschedule of the December 23 matchup between these two teams. You may remember that the game was postponed because several Rockets players had a haircut party and contact tracing left Houston with fewer than the minimum eight required to compete.

Much like how Houston’s last game against Detroit didn’t matter as much as it seemed, this game might have felt different if it had happened in December. These two teams were coming off a thrilling (and nauseating) seven-game first round series against each other. The Thunder had officially thrown in the towel by trading away any players with experience. They let Billy Donovan go. They acquired 38 first round picks. They were announcing that the tank was on.

And yet, the Rockets today are the worse squad.

Injuries have obviously played a role in Houston’s present dilemma, but OKC is in the more enviable position. They have some key pieces for the future in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort, a bevy of first round picks, and some veterans to try to snag some more picks at the trade deadline. OKC is going to be a seller for the foreseeable future, but they are poised to come out of it smelling decent.

The Rockets are pinning their future on a 52% chance of landing in the top 4 of the lottery. If not, their first round pick will go to OKC and the team will be picking three times in the 20s. Buckle up.

Reminder: today’s game has an early start time.

Tip-off is at 1pm CT on AT&T SportsNet Southwest