Rockets hitting the road to face Spurs and Cavs
The Houston Rockets went 3-1 this week, suffering a down-to-the-wire loss against the New Orleans Pelicans but beating the Dallas Mavericks, the Miami Heat and the Phoenix Suns.
Houston allowed Miami only 37 three-point attempts compared to their season average of 43. Another nice accomplishment came in the form of 10 three-pointers in the first quarter versus the Mavericks, setting the NBA season-high for a quarter.
Houston struggles rebounding
The Rockets drew enough fouls in order to shoot 31.25 free-throws per game, and they made 22 per game. Besides the usual league-highs in three-point shooting, the Rockets also boast nine steals per game, good for fifth-most in the league.
On the downside, the Rockets’ rebounding took a significant dip — seeing them dead-last with just 5.5 offensive boards and 26th with 39.75 rebounds overall. Moreover, the assist (19.75) and block (2.5) numbers also paled in comparison with Rockets’ season averages, both placing them in the bottom five NBA teams.
In the loss to New Orleans, the Pelicans out-rebounded Houston 42 to 35 and shot 40 percent from the three-point line. This marked Rockets’ first loss of the season with James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela all in the starting lineup.
Beard & CP3 running the show
Harden appears to be back to his MVP form, posting a team-high 25 points and nine assists per game and getting to the free throw line 32 times last week. Though these high assist numbers went along with 4.25 turnovers, the Beard made up for it with 1.75 steals per game.
Paul is again among elite point guards with 20.75 points and 4.5 rebounds per game as well as near perfect free-throw shooting. Moreover, the veteran guard made a whopping 52.6 percent of his three-point attempts and posted 23 assists compared to just five turnovers.
To start the week, the Rockets will host the struggling Orlando Magic, whose only strong feature is their ability to defend the three-point shot. Outside of that, the Magic are average or bottom-feeders in most categories, and that is something the Rockets have to capitalize on.
The San Antonio Spurs, while struggling offensively with Kawhi Leonard absent, lead the league in fewest points allowed and are top-5 in most defense categories such as rebounding and blocking.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have had a roller coaster ride of a season, but they appear to be righting the ship. This last week, the Cavaliers averaged 112.7 points on 52 percent shooting from the field and grabbing 37.3 defensive rebounds per game. Nevertheless, the defensive woes can’t be overlooked. The Cavs rank in the bottom of the league for the season in nearly every category.
The Rockets are heavily favored in their home game against Orlando but might drop one of the two road games, though it is tough to see the Spurs mustering enough offense to beat the Rockets. The Cavaliers are the biggest hurdle for the Rockets due to their recent form and Lebron James, who averaged nearly a triple-double the last three games.
Tipoff for the first game against Orlando is scheduled 7 p.m. Tuesday.