The Houston Rockets and the NBA released the full 2022-23 schedule today. There are several interesting matchups to look forward to. Even with expectations low among most Rockets fans regarding wins and losses, it doesn't dampen the excitement for the upcoming season.
We already know the preseason schedule, with the Rockets opening up against the Spurs on October 2 before ending the preseason vs. the Pacers on October 14. We also know the National TV games as well. There is only one ESPN/TNT game: vs. the Kings on ESPN. Also three NBA TV games, but that isn't exactly the same as a featured TNT matchup.
The Rockets will have 13 back-to-back games, and to start off, 10 of their first 13 games are on the road.
Even with the lack of National TV exposure, the Rockets have several games that fans should be excited about this upcoming season. Here are the five games every Rockets fan should be excited about.
The season opener Oct. 19 at Atlanta Hawks
Rockets face off vs. the Hawks' new backcourt
The Rockets open up 2022-23 vs. Trae Young and newly acquired Dejounte Murray. The Hawks had a disappointing end to 2021-22 as they were eliminated 4-1 by the Miami Heat in the first round. The Rockets ended the season with a loss vs. the Hawks in a game where Jalen Green scored a season-high 41 points. The Rockets went 1-1 vs. Atlanta last season.
We all know KPJ always gets up to play his counterpart, who also hails from Seattle.
Home opener October 21 vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Ja vs. Jalen
The Rockets’ home opener is vs. Ja Morant and the Grizzlies. They went 1-4 last year vs. the Grizzlies, with their one win coming 123-112 on March 6. Kevin Porter Jr. finished with a team-high 29 points, and someone named Christian Wood finished with 28 points and 13 rebounds. A Morant vs. Green matchup is must-see TV.
The Grizzlies come off a season where they made it to the second round and lost in six games to the Warriors.
November 7 at Orlando Magic
Jabari Smith's revenge tour begins
The revenge tour starts for Jabari Smith as he and the Rockets take on the Orlando Magic in the home of Mickey. As we all know, the Magic were rumored to have Jabari number one on their board for most of the draft process and pulled a shocker on the draft night, taking Paolo Banchero instead.
Smith will have plenty of motivation to show the Magic they made a huge mistake passing on him with the first pick. The Rockets split two games with the Magic last year.
November 16 at Dallas Mavericks
Al P vs. C Wood
The Rockets take on the Mavericks and a familiar face. This will be the first game against Christian Wood and his new team that he was traded to on the draft night. There wasn't a more polarizing player on the Rockets than Wood, who put up great numbers but never seemed to make the team better when he was on the court.
A Wood and Sengun matchup is on deck, as the Mavericks are more than likely going to use Wood as a small ball five at points throughout the game. As we all know, Wood is not a good defender, which should lead to plenty of highlight plays from Sengun.
The Mavericks made it all the way to the Conference Finals and then were knocked out by the Warriors in five games The Rockets lost all four games vs. the Mavs last year.
November 26 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Jabari Smith's revenge tour continues.
In this November matchup, the Rockets visit the Thunder for the first time in 2022-23. The Thunder are another team that passed on Smith as they selected the big man out of Gonzaga Chet Holmgren.
In this matchup, you will see two rebuilding teams that are on similar tracks far as multiple draft picks over the next few years. Where they differ is the Thunder at times last year were obviously tanking and will probably use the same tactic this year. The Rockets, on the other hand, played their main guys most of the year and their draft picks all year long.
Last year the Rockets won three out of the four games the two teams played. Another matchup to watch outside of Smith and Holmgren will be Jalen Green and Josh Giddey. Both coming out of the 2021 draft had moments last year where they showed their potential.
There is also the fact that a rivalry has formed on social media between Rockets and Thunder fans that honestly goes all the way back to the Harden trade a decade ago. As with the Magic, Smith will be out to prove the Thunder made a big mistake, not even considering Smith with the second pick.
The Rockets have the third toughest schedule this year and several tough games to start the season. As we get closer to the season, I will be breaking down the other parts of the schedule and bringing you the big matchups coming up throughout the season.