Game Preview: Houston Rockets vs Milwaukee Bucks

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Following a thoroughly disappointing loss to the Heat, the Rockets head back home to play the Bucks. The Rockets are led in scoring, assists and rebounds by MVP candidate James Harden, at 28.7 points, 11.7 assists, and  8.3 rebounds a game. The Rockets are ranked 3rd in offensive rating, 18th in defensive rating, and 4th in net rating.

The Bucks come into Houston at .500, 20-20, and tied for the 7th best record in the east, surpassing many peoples expectations after Kris Middleton's injury. The Bucks are led in scoring, assists and in rebounding by rapidly growing superstar, Giannis Antetokounmpo, at 23.4 points, 5.6 assists, and 8.7 rebounds per game. The Bucks rank 8th in offensive rating, 18th in defensive rating, and 9th in net rating.

Starting Lineups

After changing up the lineup, as Anderson missed the last game with a flue, the Rockets will likely continue start James Harden at point guard, Patrick Beverley at shooting guard, Trevor Ariza at small forward, Ryan Anderson at power forward, and Clint Capela at center, with Eric Gordon getting starter’s minutes and Corey Brewer (sadly) moving to the starting lineup if Ryan can't play on Wednesday.

The Bucks were hit with a huge injury early, with starting shooting guard Khris Middleton tearing his hamstring before the season started. The Bucks will start the game with rookie, Malcolm Brogdon at point guard, Tony Snell at shooting guard, Giannis Antetokounmpo at small forward, Jabari Parker at power forward, and John Henson at center.

Three Things to Watch

  • Rockets Slipping – After losing just four games between November 17th and January 10th, the Rockets have dropped 3 of their last four, including two losses to sub .500 teams. Watch to see if the Rockets can find their way out of this rough patch, or if the team is just coming back to earth after playing above their heads.

  • B-Easy Return – Micheal Beasley returns to Houston as a valuable contributor for this Bucks team, averaging almost 25 minutes a game over their last 4. Watch to see if Beasley looks to have a revenge game against the team that traded him, which could actually help the Rockets.

  • MVP vs MIP – Wednesday's game features what are possibly the leading candidates in the Most Valuable Player Award (Harden) and the Most Improved Player Award (Giannis). Watch to see these two superstars, who are having career years, face off, in what should be a close game.

Prediction and Tip-Off

The Rockets are playing bad basketball right now, and desperately need a good win to get back on track. I predict the Rockets will squeeze out a win over the Bucks out of desperation on Wednesday.

Tip-off will be at 7:00 P.M. Central Time in Houston on Wednesday, January 18th. The game will be televised on ESPN, with the radio broadcast on Sports Talk 790-AM.

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