Houston Rockets at Bulls: 2018-19 Game 8: Three keys to a win

ANALYSIS Houston Sports

The Houston Rockets are looking to keep the young but entertaining Bulls from running tonight in Chicago, here are three keys to a win for the Rockets.

After ending their four-game losing streak in a 119-111 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, the Houston Rockets (2-5) are looking to record their second straight win, this time in the Windy City against the Chicago Bulls (2-7), Saturday, November 3 in the United Center.

Entering Saturday’s game, the Rockets find themselves going head-to-head against one of the NBA’s youngest teams. While currently riding a three-game losing streak, the Bulls are coming off a tough 107-105 loss to the Indiana Pacers Friday night.

Unfortunately for the Bulls, their three-game losing streak may increase to four due to the potential return of James Harden. According to ESPN’s Ian Begley, the reigning MVP is expected to make his return to the lineup after missing four games due to a hamstring injury.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said Harden, the reigning MVP, was pain-free following Thursday’s practice and is probable for the Rockets’ road game against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night. Harden has missed three games after being diagnosed with a Grade 1-plus strain to his left hamstring last week.

Houston Rockets Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard:  Chris Paul– 19.0 points, 8.3 assists, 5.8 rebounds

Shooting Guard: James Harden – 28.5 points, 9.8 assists, 46.8% Field Goal

Small Forward: James Ennis – 6.7 points, 1.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds

Power Forward: PJ Tucker – 9.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 40.6% three-point field goal

Center: Clint Capela– 14.7 points, 11.2 rebounds, 59.4% field goal

Keys to a win:

Don’t get too Complacent & defend Zach LaVine:

Just because the Bulls are one of the worst teams in the league, does not guarantee an automatic win for Houston. Although they have only won two of their first nine games, look for the Bulls to do all they can to send their fans home happy with a win, Especially with Zach LaVine leading the way for the Bulls.

Although he is not Michael Jordan nor Derrick Rose, LaVine is one of the most exciting young players in the league today. With the weight of the franchise on his shoulders, LaVine is having a career year so far this season averaging 27.2 points while shooting 48.9% percent from the field.

Earlier this year, LaVaine scored a season-high 32 points in a 112-110 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.

Defending the paint:

The biggest factor into the Rockets’ slow start of the season has been their defense, particularly their ability to defend the paint. Over their previous five games, Houston has allowed their opponents to score an averaged of 52.2 points in the paint.

In their victory against the Nets, the Rockets gave up a total of 50 points from the inside. With LaVine and Jabari Parker‘s ability to get to the basket, Houston may have a rough time stopping the Bulls from scoring in the paint.

Since his return from injury, the Rockets ability to stop Bulls from getting to the basket will rely heavily on the defense of James Ennis. As well as P.J. Tucker and Clint Capela.

Accepting his role:

While recording a double-double of 32 points and 11 assists, Chris Paul was by far the best player on the court for the Rockets last night. However, with the Nets still in striking distance, it was the play from Carmelo Anthony that helped seal a victory in Brooklyn.

After starting the last two games, Anthony came off the bench and had is the best performance of the season. The 10-time all-star scored 28 points while shooting 9-12 from the field, 6-9 from behind the arc. Not only did he have his best game on the offensive end, but defensively as Anthony helped closed several gaps on defense.

If he can accept his role of coming off the bench entering Saturday’s game, Anthony can easily record another 20-point night in the Windy City.

Overall, this should be an easy win, but the Rockets must find a way to control the number of points the Bulls can record in the paint. However, with the return of James Harden, the Houston Rockets should come away with a 120-95 victory against the Chicago Bulls.

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