Game Preview: Houston Rockets vs Milwaukee Bucks

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The Rockets appear to have found their grove, picking up a blowout win on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies, a team the Rockets struggled with in their two previous meetings. The Rockets are led in scoring, assists and rebounds by MVP candidate James Harden, at 28.7 points, 11.6 assists, and  8.2 rebounds a game. The Rockets are ranked 3rd in offensive rating, 14th in defensive rating, and 3rd in net rating, higher than they have ranked all season.

The Milwaukee Bucks prepare to take on the Rockets for the second time in only five days, after losing to the Rockets in Houston, and losing their last five. The Bucks are 10th in the east so far this season, with a 20-23 record, despite an amazing season from budding superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis Antetokounmpo leads the Bucks in scoring, assists and rebounding , at 23.5 points, 5.5 assists, and 8.9 rebounds per game. The Bucks rank 10th in offensive rating, 19th in defensive rating, and 10th in net rating.

Starting Lineups

After sounding optimistic about his return to action for Monday night, Ryan Anderson is still questionable for Monday's game, but is more likely to play than not. If Ryan Anderson's condition does not improve enough, the Rockets have changed things up, moving Sam Dekker into his role, instead of Corey Brewer, who was ineffective as a starter. The Rockets will likely start James Harden at point guard, Patrick Beverley at shooting guard, Trevor Ariza at small forward, Ryan Anderson at power forward, and Clint Capela or Montrezl Harrell at center, with Eric Gordon getting starter’s minutes as the NBA's best sixth man.

The Bucks changed their starting lineup in their loss to the Heat, giving Mathew Dellavedova into the starting lineup, over rookie, Malcolm Brogdon. The Bucks also moved Jabari Parker to the bench, with Thon Maker taking his place, as a punishment for sharing sensitive information about the locker room to ESPN, and it is unclear how long he will stay on the bench to start games. The Buck’ starting five will likely be Mathew Dellavedovaat 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

  • Rematch – After thrashing the Bucks on national TV, in Houston, the Bucks will be looking for revenge, with more familiarity with the Rockets team. The Rockets were able to shut down the Bucks attack by doubling everything down low and forcing the Bucks to hit jump shots, which is their weakness. Although the Rockets were able to keep the Bucks as a whole in check, Antetokounmpo ripped through the Rockets' defense, to the tune of 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists. Watch to see if the Bucks have figured out a way to attack the Rockets' trapping defesne, or if the Rockets have figured out a way to slow down 'The Greek Freak'.

  • Dekker Break Out – Sam Dekker ecieved his first career start on Saturday, and he did not disappoint. Sam Dekker scored 30 points against a tough Grizzlies defense, on 12of 15 from the field, and 6 of 11 from three, becoming the first Rocket to ever score 30+ in their first start. Watch to see if Sam Dekker is able to build on this career game, both on Monday, in a homecoming for the Wisconsin native, and for the rest of the season.

  • Get to the Corners – The Milwaukee Bucks are the worst team in the league at preventing corner three point attempts, allowing the highest percentage of opponent's threes to come from the corners by a quite a bit, as 29.1% compared to the next highest at 25.8%. Watch to see if the three-happy Rockets are able to take advantage of this weakness, and bombard the Bucks with corner threes.

Prediction and Tip-Off

The Rockets are looking to get back on track, as they dropped four of their last six, before beating the Grizzlies on Saturday. I expect them to give full effort and beat a team that they out-talent.

Tip-off will be at 7:00 P.M. Central Time in Milwaukee on Monday, January 23rd. The game will be televised on ROOT Sports, with the radio broadcast on Sports Talk 790-AM.

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