Game Preview: Houston Rockets vs Philadelphia 76ers

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After being unable to sweep the home-and-home series against the San Antonio Spurs the Rockets fell to 5-4 on the young season. In a game that saw James Harden have his second straight triple-double, the Rockets just weren't able to score efficiently enough, despite getting plenty of good three-point looks. Going into the Rockets' third home game, against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Rockets rank 7th in offensive rating, 27th in defensive rating, and right in the middle, at 15th in net rating. James Harden continues to lead the team in points, at 30 a game, and assists, at 13 a game, and now also leads the team in rebounds, at 8.1.

The Philadelphia 76ers have played just about as well as everyone has expected, while they have been more competitive than many thought, they are still just 1-8 so far this season. The 76ers come into Monday's game ranked 23rd in defensive rating and dead last in both offensive and net rating. Joel "The Process" Embiid leads the 76ers in scoring with an impressive 18.8 points per game in only 22 minutes. He also leads the team in rebounds at 6.8 a game, while Sergio Rodriguez lead the 76ers in assists with 7.1 a game.

Starting Lineups

Rockets fans can expect to see the same starting five as the last few games with James Harden at point guard, Corey Brewer at shooting guard, Trevor Ariza at small forward, Ryan Anderson at power forward, and Clint Capela at center, with Eric Gordon playing more minutes than Corey Brewer at shooting guard throughout the game. Patrick Beverley is nearing a return and when that happens we will likely see him taking Brewer's starting role.

The 76ers went out last off-season to add veteran talent to their young core and they did so by signing Spanish point guard Sergio Rodriguez and shooting guard Gerald Henderson (both of whom start at their positions). The rest of the starting lineup is made up of promising young players; Robert Covington at small forward, Dario Saric at power forward, and Joel Embiid at center.

Three Things to Watch

  • Beat who you're supposed to beat -  Last years Rockets team appeared to have a frustrating problem with beating bad teams. Although they didn't lose to the 76ers they came very close and needed a 50 point game by James Harden to sneak out with a win. The Rockets should blow out this 76ers team, and we should watch to make sure that they don't revert to the bad habit of playing down to their opponent.

  • The Process -  Whenever Joel Embiid is on the floor, it is must watch television. Make sure to watch one of the league's most entertaining young players and how Clint Capela is able to match up with him.

  • Clint finding his rhythm? – After making just two of his first 13 free throw attempts, Clint Capela made four of six attempts at the line in the two games against the Spurs, and looked confident doing so. It will be worth noting if he continues to be able to make free throws, at even a 50% clip, from here on out.

Prediction and Tip-Off

After two straight tough games, the Rockets get to play the worst team in the NBA, in the 76ers. I predict the Rockets will blow the 76ers out, as they should, and improve to 6-4.

Tip-off will be at 7:00 P.M. Central Time in the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, on Monday, November 14th and will be televised on NBA TV and ROOT sports, with the radio broadcast on Sports Talk 790-AM.

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