Game Preview: Houston Rockets vs New York Knicks

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Coming off of a close loss to the reigning champ Cleveland Cavaliers just the night before the Rockets head to New York to take on another  'super team'... sort of. The Rockets are hoping that they can get back to above .500, sitting at 2-2 after Tuesday's game, that saw a supernova James Harden put up 41 points to go with 15 assists against just one turnover.

The Knicks will be coming off of a bad game against the Detroit Pistons that saw them fall to 1-2 on the season (along with the worst shot I've ever seen in an NBA game). The Knicks have been a bit of a disappointment so far this season to some, having the fourth worse net rating in the NBA up to this point. Carmelo Anthony comes into the game against the Rockets game averaging 21 points to lead the team in scoring followed by Latvian phenom Kristaps Porzingis at 18.3 points per game. New addition Derrick Rose has been about what most expected him to be so far, averaging just over 16 points per game on nearly as many shot attempts to go with just six assists through three games.

Starting Lineups

The Rockets have no reason to change anything once again, unless Ariza's newly stitched up face causes problems (it probably wont). We can expect to see Harden at point guard, Gordon at shooting guard, Ariza at small forward, Anderson at power forward, and Capela at center out there for the opening tip.

The Knicks made some major changes to their roster over the off-season trading for former MVP Derrick Rose and signing his former teammate Joakim Noah along with former Rocket Courtney Lee, the three newcomers start for the Knicks at point guard, center, and shooting guard, respectively.  The only two returning starters are prolific scorer Carmelo Anthony at small forward and second-year star Kristaps Porzingis at power forward. The Knicks also signed point guard Brandon Jennings to fulfill the role of sixth man, so expect to see him play a decent amount of minutes as well.

Three Things to Watch

  • Gut check -  The first back to back game of the season is here and it's a tough one for the Rockets, having to travel from a hard fought game in Cleveland to New York just the night before . I will be watching to see how the team combats the fatigue that comes with a road back to back and the disappointment of letting a close one get away just the night before, as last years team didn't do a great job facing adversity.

  • Second unit sadness - On Tuesday's game D'Antoni tried changing his rotation to combat how bad the team has been with Harden on the bench, giving Bobby Brown his first run of the season, but it didn't work. The Rockets outscored the Cavaliers by ten points in the 38 minutes Harden played, but the bench was able to get outscored by 18 in the ten minutes Harden was out, which is impressively bad. It will be interesting to see if D'Antoni continues to try and find a new bench unit that can keep the team afloat while Harden sits and what he comes up with.

  • Clint Capela's struggles- While he had been very good defensively up to this point, Clint has struggled on offense, both finishing at the rim and at the free throw line. There was a stretch in the middle of the fourth where his struggles showed, he missed a layup off of a slightly off James Harden lob that led to a cavaliers layup on the break, then turned the ball over on an ill-advised bounce pass, resulting in a three to spark a big Cavalier run. We will need to watch and see if Clint can get past these struggles and be able to earn more of D'Antoni's trust.


Prediction and Tip-Off

I think the Rockets are the better team between the two but that may not be enough on Wednesday. While this game will be the second of a back to back for the Knicks as well, playing at home in those games is much easier than being on the road. Due to how hard these games are I predict a close game, with the Rockets still able to pull out the victory, moving to 3-2 on the season.

Tip-off will be at 6:30 P.M. Central Time in the Madison Square Garden in New York City, on Wednesday, November 2nd and will be televised on ROOT Sports, with the radio broadcast on Sports Talk 790-AM.

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