Houston Rockets vs NY Knicks: 2017-18 Game 19: Five things to watch

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 17: Kristaps Porzingis
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 17: Kristaps Porzingis /

The Houston Rockets continue to float on to a 14-4 record off a three-game winning streak with currently the best record in the West.  The team will take on a banged-up but improved 10-8 New York Knicks team.

The Houston Rockets will face a New York Knicks that has improved in many aspects post-Carmelo Anthony era.  Although the ball movement was quite stagnant when he was there, the team has seen uptick in it with the offense now going through Kristaps Porzingis. It’s his team now and more than likely Clint Capela will be tasked with the assignment of guarding him.

This may not necessarily be the best game to watch because of the injuries on the Knicks’ front line but it’s definitely one for the match ups.  If Enes Kanter isn’t available, this game is going to get ugly for our opponent quickly and Rockets will start to coast to a double-digit margin.  It’s important that you also keep an eye on how efficient Jarrett Jack as a floor general and what this team is doing to stymie that said effectiveness.

1.) So who’s leading the charge for the Knicks?

With no surprise, Kristaps Porzingis is the lead go-to guy in scoring (27.3 PPG) as well as the top shot-blocker (2.3 BPG).  Enes Kanter is man behind taking down the boards (10.2 RPG), while Jarrett Jack doles out the dimes (5.9 APG).  Frank Nitilikina leads in steals (1.6 SPG).

2.) Let’s talk about what the Knicks do well.

Their offense has dramatically improved.  The Knicks are now 10th in offensive efficiency, averaging 105.6 points per 100 possessions.  This is up from 104.7 points per 100 in 2016-17, putting them in the lower middle of the pack.  It’s just a point difference year-over-year but can be make-or-break between a win or a loss.

They’re certainly good at going for the second chance.  The Knicks are 5th in offensive rebound rate (26.6).

They’re a decent rebounding team.  The Knicks are 12th in rebound rate — tied with the Atlanta Hawks — taking down 50.3 percent of missed shots.

They are competent enough, not great, at minimizing turnovers.  The Knicks are 12th in turnover ratio — tied with the Portland Trail Blazers — with 12.5 percent of their possessions ending in a turnover.

3.) Injuries:

Chris Paul has now returned back to the lineup, fully-recovered from a bruised knee that he suffered earlier in the season.  Paul’s time on the court is still limited but his knee seems to have responded well to the treatment thus far.  His on-court time limit has increased to 28 min per — up from 20 — he had 23 points, 12 assists and three steals off 8-for-11 FG and 4-for-7 from behind-the-arc in 27 minutes this past Wednesday against the Denver Nuggets.

Ryan Anderson has been battling an illness over the past week.  Although he was expected to play Wednesday, he was held out.  However, he’s expected to be available as he did practice Friday.

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Eric Gordon strained his calf earlier this week and was held out of Wednesday’s game as well.  He too practiced yesterday but his likely availability will be rendered as a game-time decision.

Kanter is experiencing back spasms and did not play in last night’s match up against the Atlanta Hawks.  He has been deemed as QUESTIONABLE for tonight.

Joakim Noah is ill and did not make the trip with the team.  He’ll definitely be OUT for tonight.

Source(s): Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Ian Begley of ESPN.com and Al Iannazzone of Newsday

4.) Matchups to Watch:

  1. Trevor Ariza vs. Tim Hardaway Jr.
  2. Chris Paul vs. Jarrett Jack
  3. James Harden vs. Courtney Lee
  4. Clint Capela vs. Kristaps Porzingis/Enes Kanter (if he’s available)

Next: THREE Reasons why there's hate for James Harden

5.) Prediction:

111-95 in a Houston Rockets’ win!

The Rockets are at home to take on the Knicks at Toyota Center.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST.

The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet Southwest/NBA TV and broadcast on SportsTalk 790 AM, Sirius 216, XM/SiriusXM 217 (Internet 890) and La Ranchera 101.7 FM (KNTE) & 850 AM (KEYH) in Spanish.

Go Rockets.