Game Preview: Houston Rockets vs Washington Wizards

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After James Harden ended 2016 with a bang, in a win over the Knicks on New Year's Eve, the Rockets move to 26-9 on the season. The Rockets start off 2017 with a game at home against the Washington Wizards. The Rockets are led in scoring, assists and rebounds by James Harden, at 28.5 points, 12.0 assists, and  8.1 rebounds a game. The Rockets remain ranked 3rd in offensive rating, 17th in defensive rating, and 4th in net rating.

The Wizards are a much different team than they were when the Rockets last saw them, in November. In their last meeting the Wizards were 1-4 and beginning to look like a disaster, continuing on to a 2-8 record after 10 games, since that poor start the Wizards have gone 13-7, now sitting at 15-15 on the season, and the 6th best record in the east. The Wizards are led in scoring and assists by John Wall, at 23.6 points and 10 assists, while Marcin Gortat leads in rebounding, at 11.8 rebounds per game. So far this season, the Wizards rank 12th in offensive rating, 20th in defensive rating, and 13th in net rating.

Starting Lineups

With Clint Capela still in a suit with a fractured fibula, and Patrick Beverley likely to play after missing Saturday's game with a wrist injury, the Rockets starting lineup will likely 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 and Corey Brewer eplacing Beverly if he has to miss another game.

The Wizards will be missing newcomer Ian Mahinmi (knee) on Saturday, and may also have starting shooting guard Bradley Beal miss the game with a sprained ankle. The Wizards are likely to start the game with John Wall at point guard, Bradley Beal at shooting guard, Otto Porter at small forward, Markief Morris at power forward, and Marcin Gortat at center, with rookie, Sheldon McClellan, likely to get the starting nod if Beal cannot play.

Three Things to Watch

  • First game of the year – The Rockets ended 2016 on a high note, winning a franchise record 15 game in December. Watch to see if the Rockets continue their success into the new year.

  • Beard Craziness  – On Saturday night James Harden became the first player in NBA history to have at least 50 points, 15 assist, and 15 rebounds in a game, putting up 53-16-17. Watch to see if Harden can build off of his amazing play and have a stretch of games that could help him pull away in MVP races.

  • All the points – The Rockets are second in eFG%, while the Wizard allow the 4th highest eFG% in the NBA, the Wizards are also ranked 24th at running teams off of the three point line. Watch to see if the Rockets take advantage of the Wizard's poor three point defense and maybe go for another three point record.

Prediction and Tip-Off

Assuming Beverley plays, there is no reason the Rockets should lose this game, as the Wizard's most glaring weakness happens to be the Rockets strength, so I predict the Rockets will win their 5th straight on Tuesday night.

Tip-off will be at 7:00 P.M. Central Time in Houston on Tuesday, January 2nd The game will be televised on ROOT Sports, with the radio broadcast on Sports Talk 790-AM.

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