Game Preview: Houston Rockets vs New York Knicks

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After winning a high scoring game over the injury riddled Clippers, the Rockets head into their second half of a back to back against the New York Knicks at 25-9. The Rockets are led in scoring and assists by James Harden, at 27.8 points and 11.8 assists, and in rebounds by Clint Capela, at 8.0 rebounds a game. The Rockets remain ranked 3rd in offensive rating, 17th in defensive rating, and 4th in net rating.

The Knicks have had an up and down season this year, but are still about where many pegged them to be, at 16-16, following their third straight loss at the hands of the Pelicans. The Knicks are led in scoring by Carmelo Anthony, at 22.4 points per game, in assists by Brandon Jennings, at 5.3 assists, and in rebounds by Joakim Noah, at 8.3 rebounds per game. So far this season, the Knicks rank 16th in offensive rating, 24th in defensive rating, and 23rd in net rating.

Starting Lineups

With Clint Capela still sidelined for up to another month with a fractured fibula, the Rockets starting lineup will continue to be: James Harden at point guard, Patrick Beverley at shooting guard, Trevor Ariza at small forward, Ryan Anderson at power forward, and either Nene Hilario or Montrezl Harrell at center, with Eric Gordon getting starter’s minutes.

The Knicks have head a relatively healthy season, considering some of their player's histories, but one starter, Courtney Lee, may miss Saturday's game with a sore right wrist. The Knicks are likely to start the game with Derrick Rose at point guard, Sasha Vujacic at shooting guard, Carmelo Anthony at small forward, Kristaps Porzingis at power forward, and Joakim Noah at center, with Courtney Lee moving back into the starting shooting guard role is he is healthy enough to play.

Three Things to Watch

  • Last game of the year – The Rockets have already set a record for most December wins in franchise history, with 14, and are now going for number 15 on the last game of 2016. Watch to see if the Rockets can end the old year and welcome the new one with their fourth straight win.

  • Attack the glass – The Knicks are currently 27th in the NBA in defensive rebound rate, luckily for them, the Rockets best rebounder is sidelined with an injury. Watch to see if the Rockets are able to crash the offensive glass, attacking the Knicks most glaring weakness, with Nene and Montrezl holding down the fort at center.

  • Kristaps, the almighty – Kristaps is, without a doubt, one of the most fun players to watch in the NBA right now, averaging 20.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, and nearly 2 blocks per game, all while shooting 40.2% from three point range! Watch to see the young Latvian big man show his skill, as he develops into one of the best bigs in the NBA.

Prediction and Tip-Off

I expect the Knicks extend their 3 game losing streak, while the Rockets do the same with their 3 game win streak. The Rockets are on fire in December and are just the more talented team, going into Saturday night.

Tip-off will be at 7:00 P.M. Central Time in Houston on Saturday, December 31st. The game will be televised on ROOT Sports, with the radio broadcast on Sports Talk 790-AM.

Happy New Year!

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