Although the two teams are just two spots away from each other in the Western Conference standings, they seemingly have diametrically opposite approaches to the rest of the year.
While the New Orleans Pelicans are fighting to enter the play-in tournament to keep their season alive, the Houston Rockets have apparently thrown in the towel and will work on a significant rebuild of their team.
Fixture: New Orleans Pelicans vs Houston Rockets | NBA Season 2020-21.
Date & Time: Sunday, April 4th, 2021; 8:00 PM ET (Monday, April 5th; 5:30 AM IST).
Venue: Toyota Center, Houston, TX.
Houston Rockets Preview
The Houston Rockets have been struggling ever since the departure of several key players.
James Harden forced his way out of the team, and soon PJ Tucker, Victor Oladipo, DeMarcus Cousins and others followed suit. The Houston Rockets now hold a dismal 13-35 record and will likely deliberately tank the rest of the season to guarantee themselves a high draft pick.
Moreover, the Houston Rockets' leading scorer, John Wall, is out of this game due to a knee injury. Eric Gordon has been sidelined for weeks following a moderate groin strain, while David Nwaba and Dante Exum are also listed.
Key Player - Christian Wood
Christian Wood has been the only reliable scoring option on the Houston Rockets roster ever since Oladipo got traded and Wall got injured.
In 25 games he's played for the Houston Rockets this season, Wood is averaging 21.1 points and 9.7 rebounds per game while also registering 1.4 blocks a night.
Wood is one of the prime candidates for the Most Improved Player award this season. He also has a great relationship with the head coach Stephen Silas. If he keeps developing at this pace, he could be the Houston Rockets' next franchise player.
Houston Rockets Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - DJ Augustin | Shooting Guard - Kevin Porter Jr. | Small Forward - Danuel House Jr. | Power Forward - Jae'Sean Tate | Center - Christian Wood.
New Orleans Pelicans Preview
Despite incredible performances by Zion Williamson, the New Orleans Pelicans are struggling of late. They have lost three of their last five games, including a loss to an underwhelming Orlando Magic side.
The Pelicans seem to have run into injury issues again, as three of their five starters are listed as either out or questionable for this game. Moreover, Josh Hart is out indefinitely, while rookie Kira Lewis Jr. is a doubtful starter.
Aside from a few unfortunate losses of late, the New Orleans Pelicans have been steadily climbing in their conference standings. They are now just win away from overtaking the Sacramento Kings for the 11th spot in the conference.
The New Orleans Pelicans need to go on a significant winning streak to get a fixed spot in the play-in tournament. Seven of their next 12 games are against teams with a 0.500 or lower winning record. If everyone in their roster remains healthy, the Pelicans will fancy their chances of making the play-in tournament.
Key Player - Zion Williamson
Although listed as questionable, Zion Williamson is undoubtedly the team's best player.
Williamson has put on a display of incredible efficiency this season. He is shooting an amazing 62.4% from the floor and is leading the league in FG% for anyone scoring over 20 points per game.
Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle spoke about Williamson after his team faced off against the Pelicans last Sunday in New Orleans:
"He is a Shaquille O'Neal-type force of nature with a point guard skillset"
New Orleans Pelicans Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Nickeil Alexander-Walker | Shooting Guard - Eric Bledsoe | Small Forward - Wes Iwundu | Power Forward - James Johnson | Center - Steven Adams.
Pelicans vs Rockets Match Prediction
Both the rosters are injury-riddled and missing several star players.
The New Orleans Pelicans' second unit will take the floor for this game if their starters are deemed unfit to play. Meanwhile, the Houston Rockets will be relying heavily on Kevin Porter Jr. and Christian Wood for this outing.
How well Steven Adams guards, Wood could be crucial for the outcome of this matchup. The two teams are expected to have a low-scoring showdown.
Meanwhile, Isaiah Thomas has joined the New Orleans Pelicans as a free agent and is expected to make his debut on Sunday.
Where to watch the Pelicans vs Rockets game?
The New Orleans Pelicans vs Houston Rockets game will be locally televised on Bally Sports NO and AT&T SportsNet Southwest (ATTSN-SW-Alt). The match can also be live-streamed with an NBA League Pass.