Hard to believe, but we are just eight weeks from the start of the NBA season. On Wednesday, the association released the full 82-game schedules for its teams including the Houston Rockets. While last year was a generally forgettable one from a wins and losses standpoint, the end result was a draft pick that landed them Jabari Smith. This is a young, talented and exciting team that will be loads of fun to watch.
Now, that is unlikely to translate into many wins this year, but it should be one more step on the ladder up from mediocrity and, eventually (hopefully), to being a contender. We have some thoughts about the Rockets schedule.
The Rockets will be “nationally televised” four times.
This is always a big deal for fans who see it as a measure of respectability in the eyes of other NBA fans and the league as a whole. Last year, the Rockets got a big fat zero when it came to games on ESPN, NBATV and TNT. This year, no doubt fed by the excitement surrounding Smith, Jalen Green and others, the team gets four chances to be on display in front of a wider audience.
Only one makes it to ESPN, the more coveted of the choice between that and NBATV, a west coast late nighter against the plucky Sacramento Kings in early January. The rest on the league network are scattered and include a November game at New Orleans, a post-Thanksgiving “black Saturday” game at Toyota Center against the Thunder, and a dead-of-winter Monday game in LA against the Lakers. Hey, it’s a start.
A brutal start but easier close.
The Rockets start the season with 10 of their first 13 on the road. It’s a difficult schedule, historically speaking, and it isn’t made easier by the teams and the travel which includes Atlanta, Portland, Phoenix, Toronto, LA (Clippers) and Memphis among others. It will be a very early test for the young team who, with youthful legs, should be able to withstand that onslaught of travel. Fortunately, as the season gets closer to the end, things start to ease up with fewer back-to-back games (more on that below) and a slate of teams that should be less of a struggle.
There are a bunch of back-to-back games.
This is true of most years, but when you consider that out of the 12 sets of back-to-backs, eight of them include travel in between and seven include at least one game against a team projected to make the playoffs. The NBA certainly likes to heap the pain onto the teams that aren’t supposed to be very good and this feels like a lot of it.
Rockets ring in the New Year at Toyota Center against New York.
Pretty interesting New Year’s Eve game this year. The Rockets have been doing an annual NYE game every year for quite a while now, including post game concerts and entertainment. This year, the Knicks come to town. Not only should they be pretty good, but there’s a better chance at not just a bigger crowd in attendance but also a wider TV audience thanks to the New York market. Good planning on the team’s part.