The undefeated Houston Rockets head into their biggest test of the season, that won’t only check out how their backcourt of Jeremy Lin and James Harden is fairing, but whether or not they should keep on going with their twin tower duo at the start games, partnering Dwight Howard and Omer Asik together, this time against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The numbers show that the Rockets aren’t that efficient offensively with Asik and Howard on the floor together, but they’re also grabbing nearly 60% of available rebounds when they’re playing together. The Rockets do need to do a better job in spreading the floor, but protecting the rim is extremely important against a team like the Clippers, who push a lot of balls into the paint for Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
Point guards usually relish playing against Jeremy Lin, who isn’t the best of defenders in the league. However, the wall that’s provided by Howard and Asik in the paint makes it quite difficult to blow by him, even if he is extremely easy to get by. Paul is averaging 27.7 points and 12 assists per game so far this season, but it’ll be more important for him to make Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick hit open shots and stretch the floor.
Maybe it’ll be the bench that decides this game. The Rockets have been fortunate to see a strong start from both Francisco Garcia (13 points per game) and Omri Casspi (8 points per game), giving them two more options in spreading the shooting around. They’re hitting 38.2% of their three pointers so far this season.
One thing the Clippers do very well is force turnovers and into bad passes like they did to Stephen Curry (11 turnovers) and the Golden State Warriors. The Houston Rockets have more than one ball handler to use, but they need to avoid passes along the perimeter that are easy to pick up. Having an efficient inside-outside game is a key to making the Clippers frustrated, as they tend to do after their gambling doesn’t pay off.
Prediction – The Rockets have a very solid team, with plenty of offensive options. Their defense so far this season has been quite impressive, and that trend should continue against the Clippers on the road, making Chris Paul look a little bit less amazing.