Tonight, the Houston Rockets play their first game that they’ll likely be favored to win. Yes, Houston hasn’t been blown out start-to-finish in a game yet, but being one of the last two winless teams in the league (Memphis being the other) has to be wearing on the young Rockets and new head coach Ime Udoka.
I think it’s plain to see that the Rockets look better than last year. Again, no one is confusing this group for a contender, but the Rockets don’t look like a team destined to finish dead last in the Western Conference once again. The improvement, especially among the starting group as a whole and the defense in general, is noticeable. It’s frustrating to start 0-3, but it’s always tough when the schedule breaks poorly.
On paper, getting a long home stand early in the year is a blessing. It gives everyone a chance to get comfortable for a couple of weeks and sleep in their own beds. Unfortunately, Houston’s schedule during the homestand leaves plenty to be desired.
I’m a Norwich City fan (because I hate myself), a team currently mired in the Championship (the second division of English football/soccer). And recently, they’ve gotten hit with bad schedule luck.
The last two times Norwich has fought their way back to the Premier League, they’ve started off the season with an impossible slate. In 2021, they started with Liverpool, Manchester City, Leicester City, and Arsenal. Each of those teams finished in the top 8 (of 20), including Man City and Liverpool finishing 1-2. Norwich lost every match.
By the time Norwich finally got to play a “bad” team (Watford), the pressure was on. However, Watford had already won a match and had been in some close contests. With that confidence, they scored two second half goals and continued Norwich’s spiraling. The Canaries never recovered, and were relegated. So were Watford, incidentally.
The point is, you can look at the schedule and say, “Oh good we’re getting some obvious losses out of the way early,” but this ignores the psychological toll that losing takes. The Rockets want to change their culture, and that starts with not digging such a deep hole that the season becomes untenable in December.
Please Houston, don’t pull a Norwich.
How to Watch
Space City Home Network
Tari Eason-OUT (leg)
Jock Landale-day-to-day (concussion)
Looking ahead because we can
Saturday at home against Sacramento