What: Phoenix Suns host Houston Rockets
When: 8:30 pm AZ time
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena
Watch: ESPN/Fox Sports Arizona
Listen: 98.7 FM
Suns - Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, T.J. Warren, Dragan Bender, Tyson Chandler
Rockets - Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, Ryan Anderson, Clint Capela
OffRtg = 113.0 (T1st), DefRtg = 105.2 (12th), NetRtg = 7.8 (2nd)
Obviously, the biggest story for Houston right now is James Harden’s injury. With Harden on the bench, coach Mike D’Antoni (we know that guy!) has had to rely occasionally on Briante Weber from the G-League, plus Gerald Green (we know that guy!) over the last few games as a street free agent.
Green has been a revelation after being out of the NBA early in the year, thanks mostly to the fact that the Rockets don’t run anything terribly complicated most of the time on offense. He is averaging 16.6 points per game on 49 percent 3-point shooting.
Also of note is Chris Paul being absolutely incredible this year, as Suns fans know from his return to action in November when Houston won by 26 and Paul posted a double-double. He has looked this season as if the time off to rest from injury rejuvenates him.
OffRtg = 103.6 (23rd), DefRtg = 108.1 (26th), NetRtg = -4.4 (27th)
In this game, I’m mostly interested in how the Suns play defensively. Playing against the best offense in the NBA will be a huge challenge for the Suns, as they have been unable to consistently guard quick players off the dribble. Houston has lots of those, including Gordon, Paul, and Green.
Of course, behind the scenes, it will be interesting to continue monitoring the development of Dragan Bender. He will likely play heavy minutes tonight with Chriss and (and potentially Isaiah Canaan and Josh Jackson) out. Bender stands out as someone for whom the Houston matchup might be a good one. He can switch the abundant screens Houston runs and hold his own.
Despite the Suns looking good lately and the Rockets coming down to Earth after a really hot start, I figure this one will be a double-digit loss, though not as big as the beatdown in November.
Something like 120-105 sounds about right. Another developmental loss for the Suns, hopefully.