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Rockets ready for re-opener in Orlando

Houston tips off at 8 pm against Dallas

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HOUSTON – The NBA is back!

Thursday night was just the appetizer in Orlando and Friday night it’s a full slate of games led by the Rockets showdown with the Mavericks. It’ll be eight games until the finish line, and then the playoff party officially begins.

Houston is already in and currently the sixth overall seed in the West while Dallas begins as the seventh seed.

Very little separates the Rockets from the third seed but then again they can also slip back if they struggle in these eight games. The bottom line is the Rockets are in the playoffs, but where they land and who they face in round one will be determined in the next few weeks.

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The Rockets check in at 40-24 on the season and are healthy again except for Eric Gordon who is out with a sprained ankle suffered against the Celtics. He could be out for two weeks or possibly more, but they hope and expect E-G to be ready when the playoffs tip off. They showed flashes of great basketball during the season but leading up to when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they were struggling after dropping four of their last five games before the NBA shut it down for a few months.

The Rockets will try to make a run in Orlando and feel, with Eric Gordon healthy, they can take down the favorites in the Lakers and Clippers. With the small-ball lineup, Mike D’Antoni will stick with having to shoot well and more importantly find a way to make stops defensively. Going small led to big struggles in rebounding numbers and they need to improve on that in Orlando.

Rockets facts and figures

  • RECORD ENTERING RESTART: 40-24
  • SCHEDULE IN ORLANDO: Mavs, Bucks, Blazers, Lakers, Kings, Spurs, Pacers and Sixers
  • TOP SCORERS: James Harden ( 34.4 ppg), Russell Westbrook ( 27.5 ppg)
  • TOP REBOUNDERS: Russell Westbrook ( 8.0 rpg), Robert Covington ( 7.9 rpg)
  • 3-POINTERS MADE: 271 by James Harden ( #1 in the NBA)

X factor

Keep an eye on the likes of Robert Covington and Ben McLemore with Eric Gordon out. McLemore has a quick release and is a pure shooter with great range for D’Antoni.