The Houston Rockets will host the Oklahoma City Thunder on the second day of the 2020-21 NBA season. The new season comes with changes, and these two teams are in transition years for different reasons. The subplot of this game might be more interesting than the game itself.
UPDATE (23rd December, Noon) - James Harden is under investigation by the NBA and Houston Rockets for visiting a club on Sunday night. Harden has issued a statement, by which he admitted that he indeed was out for a special event. This could lead to players like DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall and possibly more players missing their opener against OKC Thunder due to NBA's contract tracing protocol.
Check out the NBA schedule for the first half of the season here.
Fixture - Houston Rockets vs Oklahoma City Thunder | 2020-21 NBA Season
Date & Time - Wednesday, December 23rd, 8:00 PM ET (Thursday, December 24th, 6:30 AM IST)
Location - Toyota Center, Houston, TX
This Western Conference battle features a Houston Rockets team in disarray with the James Harden trade demands. Will Harden play well with his teammates who are probably not as keen on playing with a disgruntled superstar? We shall see.
The first test for the Rockets is a young Oklahoma City Thunder squad that’s built for the future. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has star potential but is a lone wolf against a tough Rockets team.
Houston Rockets Preview
James Harden is still a member of the Houston Rockets at the time of writing but anything can happen within the next few days, weeks, or months. No one knows except the Rockets organization, who are adamant about not giving up Harden for pennies on the dollar.
The Rockets have a very good team, one that was slightly rebuilt to continue competing for a championship. Whether John Wall is still in All-Star form despite missing almost two seasons to injuries, we will know in this game. Watch out for rising star Christian Wood of the Houston Rockets!
Key Player - James Harden
In his first game this season, James Harden will be pitted against an Oklahoma City Thunder team that’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
As good as Harden is, his mind may not be in this game as much as the team that he wants to play for ultimately. No one knows what to expect from Harden in this game.
It will be interesting to see how well he meshes with his new point guard, John Wall, who is the third All-Star playmaker to play for the Houston Rockets in three years.
Houston Rockets Predicted Lineup
G John Wall G James Harden F Danuel House F PJ Tucker C Christian Wood
Oklahoma City Thunder Preview
The Oklahoma City Thunder organization gutted their team the past two offseasons, choosing to rebuild their team through the draft.
General manager Sam Presti’s insane haul of 17 future first-round picks through 2026 may as well play this game.
The Thunder’s foundation is squarely on the 22-year-old shoulders of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is on the cusp of becoming a star in the league.
Key Player - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
The keys to the Oklahoma City Thunder have been handed to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Gone are his superstar teammates, and it’s now up to him to dictate the tempo and flow of the game.
Ranked 38th on ESPN’s yearly ranking of the NBA’s best players, Gilgeous-Alexander will have to carry the team in scoring. This match-up with the Houston Rockets will be a good preview of what’s in store for the Thunder this season.
Oklahoma City Thunder Predicted Lineup
G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander G Hamidou Diallo F Luguentz Dort F Darius Bazley C Al Horford
Rockets vs. Thunder Match Prediction
As exciting as it is to watch Shai Gilgeous-Alexander grow into a leadership role, the Oklahoma City Thunder will be overwhelmed by the Houston Rockets, who have far too much firepower at this stage.
Aside from John Wall, James Harden, and Christian Wood, the Houston Rockets added former All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, who is back from an ACL injury that kept him out of the entire 2019-20 season.
Expect a blowout win by the Rockets even if Harden gets traded prior to the game.
Where to watch Rockets vs. Thunder?
The Houston Rockets vs Oklahoma City Thunder match-up will be shown locally via AT&T SportsNet Southwest and Fox Sports Oklahoma. The game will also be live streamed internationally on NBA League Pass.
Published 22 Dec 2020, 07:31 IST