What a great way to bounce back from a disappointing road loss to open the season. The Rockets outscored the Spurs in every quarter last night on their way to a dominate 20 point win in their home opener. As consistent as they could be, Luis Scola with 18 points and Kyle Lowry with another near triple-double, were great again, so what was the difference between games 1 and 2? The easy answer is Kevin Martin who scored 25 points on 10-17 shooting one game after shooting 1-10 with 4 points vs. Orlando. We should have expected the bounce back game, Kevin Martin averaged 29.3 on 53.3 percent shooting after single-digit scoring games last season according to the Chronicles Jonathan Feigen. More than just Kevin Martin though, I think this signals a problem older teams will have during this shortened season. So far this season the Celtics, Mavericks, and Lakers are 2-8, while the younger Thunder, Heat, and Bulls are 9-1. I don't think that trend will get any better as the season goes on, and you'll likely see other coaches follow Greg Popovich's lead by sitting their older stars on the 2nd night of back-to-back games.
Now to the weekend!
Friday at Memphis - For Houston this will be the 2nd game of their only back-to-back-to-back stretch this season; Memphis had the day off yesterday. I don't see the Rockets winning this game not only because it's on the road and Memphis will have the fresher legs, but I just think it's a bad match-up for the Rockets. Even with the addition of Dalembert, the Rockets can't match the size of the Grizzlies with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Once Dalembert is able to play more than 20 minutes per night and Patrick Patterson is at full strength, they'll be able to beat the Grizzlies, but I don't think they will tonight. One other question, who will guard Rudy Gay? Kevin Martin? Chase Budinger? The Rockets have improved defensively in some areas, but not at the wing positions. I believe Rudy Gay will have a big game, the Rockets will struggle on the boards, and the Grizzlies will likely win by 6-8 points.
Saturday vs. Atlanta - For Houston this will be the final game of their only back-to-back-to-back while Atlanta will be traveling after a game tonight at home vs. New Jersey. I like the Rockets chances in this game, they've seemed to match up well with Atlanta recently. The Rockets swept the Hawks last season, averaged 107 points per game, and out-rebounded them by an average of 40 to 31. Both teams will be tired, but the Rockets will be at home and the Hawks don't present the same size problems in the post that other teams do. While Josh Smith and Al Horford are certainly good players, they're 6-9 and 6-10 respectively, giving the Rockets the rare size advantage down low. In his two games vs. Atlanta last season, Scola averaged 17 points on 63% shooting, I don't see either Atlanta big-man stopping him on Saturday. Kyle Lowry also played well last season vs. Atlanta averaging 16.5 points, 6 assists, and shooting 42% from behind the 3-point line. I also like the Rockets in this game because Atlanta is a team that depends on getting into the paint and struggles when forced to be a jump-shooting team; having Dalembert will make it much tougher to score at the rim.