Jan 20, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) shoots a free throw agains the Houston Rockets in the second half at Toyota Center. Pistons won 123 to 114. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
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As the Houston Rockets enter week 4 of the NBA season they bring an 8-5 record to the court to face the Detroit Pistons.
For the Houston Rockets playing the Pistons on their home court offers a psychological edge for the home squad given the Pistons have registered 5 of their 6 wins at home. The ever powerful Andre Drummond has been a beast on the boards, Tobias Harris (the same Harris who in essence cancelled out the need for Donatas Motiejunas last trade deadline) and Kentavious Caldwell Pope all offer substantial tests.
James Harden should have a hey day facing Ish Smith who, no one ever claimed to be a solid defender. Rather, it’s likely Caldwell-Pope will be tasked with the job of defending ‘Harden. In addition the return of Patrick Beverley has sparked the Rockets to better performances particularly on the defensive end of the court. In fact Houston jumped 6 spots defensively this past week rising from a lowly 28th rank to 22nd.
That’s a significant jump in just a single week. Part of that jump can also be credited to the competition as the Rockets registered victories in 3 out of 4 of last weeks games. Sure the Sixers and Blazers represented teams either lottery hunting or in an early slump but the Jazz win was significant. Even in their lone loss to the Thunder they were still in the game until the dying seconds and it took a super human Russell Westbrook effort along with the league’s 5th ranked defense to stop a clean sweep for the week.
And while the Pistons boast a record below .500 (6-8) and horrific road record (1-7) Houston learned on opening night to never take another team for granted.
Oct 13, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Detroit Pistons center Boban Marjanovic (51) shows emotion against the Atlanta Hawks in the fourth quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 17, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1, left) and Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley (2) shake hands on the bench during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Rockets Starting 5:
As per Mike D’Antoni’s post practice comments on Tuesday he said Beverley would return tonight vs the Blazers and be in the starting line-up.
Nov 19, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Nene Hilario (42) talks with forward Sam Dekker (7) on the bench while the Rockets play the Utah Jazz in the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson (1) shares a laugh with head coach Stan Van Gundy during media day at the Pistons Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Patrick Beverley – returned to the starting line-up and made an immediate impact in his two appearances last week.
Trevor Ariza – knee, in the game versus Utah on Saturday Ariza banged knees requiring further examination post game. Ariza is listed as day to day, but Ariza tends to hate missing games being somewhat of an iron man, so his absence may signal the knee is worse than originally expected.
Montrezl Harrell – calf, listed as available for game this evening.
Reggie Jackson – thumb and knee, underwent an injection to his knee and is expected to return late November, early December
Nov 19, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) points to his mother and smiles after defeating the Utah Jazz at Toyota Center. Rockets won 111-102. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Control Pistons Frontcourt: Andre Drummond has taken another step forward and gets excited facing similar counterparts on the opposing sides. Clint Capela will need to be diligent in blocking out Drummond in order to keep driving lanes open and most importantly off the boards. Although Drummond’s overall numbers have shown a minor regression, he’s playing without the benefit of having his point guard Reggie Jackson dishing him easy lobs or running the pick and roll with him.
Fast Start: The Rockets can’t afford to get behind early as the Pistons have lost just once at the Palace. The single loss came in their last outing versus the Boston Celtics in a tightly contested game which came right down to the wire. If the Pistons get an early lead they’ll simply shut the door and make it extremely difficult for the Rockets all night.
Defensive Mind Set: Despite having a losing record the Pistons boast the Association’s eighth best defense. With Patrick Beverley back in the mix Houston saw immediate gains. Still, they’ll need to continue to build consistent habits defensively if their desires are to be among the top teams. Detroit offers a perfect test in this regard to continue showcasing a more balanced game plan.
For more details on the squads check out the 2016-17 team previews: