The Rockets (19-15) and Pelicans (16-20) have had interesting seasons thus far to say the least. As we know, Houston began the season very poor but have since hit a scorching hot run of form, winning eight of their last nine games. New Orleans, on the other hand, started the season on a promising note, but have been unable to find consistency. The Pelicans snapped a five-game losing streak against Dallas last night, and they sit 14th in the Western Conference.
Here are the key things to look out for in tonight’s match up.
Statistically, there’s more in common between the two teams than you might think. Both teams have struggled on defense so far this season. Houston ranks 25th in the league in DRtg (111.3), and New Orleans is one worse at 26th (111.6). Offense has obviously been the calling card for both clubs, with Houston now sitting tied for first in ORtg with the Warriors (112.5). New Orleans is up near the top too, boasting the fourth best offense in the league (112.1).
Slow and steady wins the race?
Despite the similarity in the offensive production, the way both teams have gotten their points has been very different. New Orleans plays an extremely fast paced style that stands in stark contrast to the Rockets’ iso-heavy system. At 103.64, New Orleans’ pace is good for fourth fastest in the league; while Houston’s 97.01 is 28th.
The battle of the supporting casts
With Chris Paul out, the Pelicans role-players appear to have the edge, but the Rockets supporting cast has started to thrive as of late. Clint Capella is playing at the top of his game right now – over the last 3 games he’s averaging about 2o points and 22 boards. The back-court play has been strong in Paul’s absence as well. Eric Gordon has found his rhythm, and new signing Austin Rivers has been a revelation, giving the Rockets some desperately needed depth at the point guard spot.
The Beard vs. The Brow
We can stop beating around the bush – this game is going to be decided by James Harden and Anthony Davis – the two superstars are the leagues top two scorers this season. Harden has been playing at an all universe level recently, and if he continues to be the most unique offensive weapon in the NBA, the Rockets should have a decent chance.