After an eventful weekend in LA, the Houston Rockets are looking to get back on track against the Utah Jazz. Hoping to return to their winning ways, here are three keys to victory for the Rockets.
After an unexpected and eventful weekend in Los Angeles, the Houston Rockets are set to open their first of a three-game homestand against the Utah Jazz, Wednesday, October 24 in the Toyota Center. This game will mark the first time the Rockets and the Jazz faced off since their playoff series last season.
While currently standing 1-2, the Rockets are looking to get back to their winning ways after a slow start to the season. Unfortunately, they will have to do so without two of their starters.
In addition to Chris Paul who will be servicing the last of his two-game suspension, the Rockets will also be without starting forward, James Ennis. According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Ennis will miss two to three games after he suffered a strained right hamstring in Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Houston Rockets Projected Starting Five:
Point Guard: James Harden – 28.3 points, 9.7 assists, 6.7 rebounds
Shooting Guard: Eric Gordon – 17.0 points, 1.3 assists, 40.0% Field Goal
Small Forward: Michael Carter-Williams – 4.0 points, 1.7 assists, 2.7 rebounds
Power Forward: PJ Tucker – 9.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 50.0% three-point field goal
Center: Clint Capela– 16.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 61.5% field goal
Keys to a win:
Controlling the glass:
One of several reasons why the Rockets are off to a rough start is due to their struggles rebounding the basketball. In their 115-112 loss to the Clippers, the Rockets were outrebounded 49-35 and gave up 12 offensive boards in the process.
Against the Jazz, Houston must find a way to solve their rebounding woes, but it will not be easy against Utah’s all-star center, Rudy Gobert. In his first three games of the season, Gobert is currently tied for seventh best in the league, averaging 12.7 boards per game.
With Capela the Rockets only reliable rebounder, controlling the glass should be the number one focus for Tucker, Carter-Williams, and Carmelo Anthony heading into Wednesday’s game.
Defending the paint:
Another factor that has played a reason in the Rockets slow start to the season is their defense. The Rockets’ defense has been awful, and it may only get worst playing against the Jazz.
Houston is currently giving up 70 points in the paint, and one can expect Utah to take advantage of their weakness. With Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio‘s ability to get to the basket combined with the Gobert in the middle, the Rockets are going to have a tough time stopping the Jazz from scoring in the paint.
Donovan Mitchell finds a way!
— NBA (@NBA) October 23, 2018
Similar to rebounding, the Rockets defense will rely heavily on the play from Tucker, Carter-Williams, and Capela.
Getting Melo more involved:
With Chris Paul missing his second straight game, the Rockets will need someone else other than James Harden to score the basketball. And with Carmelo Anthony on the roster, the Rockets have to find a way to get the future Hall-of-Famer more involved on the offensive end.
As mention before, Melo is not the player that made him a 10-time all-star, but he is still one of the best scorers in the league. If the Rockets can utilize what is left of his talents, Houston will have no problem getting a win against the Jazz.
If given enough touches in Wednesday’s game, Utah does not have a player who can stop Melo once he heats up. Sure, Jae Crowder is one of the league’s best defenders, but his night is already filled with the defensive assignment of stopping Harden.
On a night where he can score over 20 points with eases, D’Antoni has to give Melo more touches in Wednesday’s game.
Arguably the biggest underdogs of the 2019 season, this will be a hard-fought game for the Rockets. However, if Houston can improve on their defensive play and control the glass, the Rockets should come away with a 114-102 victory against their Western Conference foe.
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