Friday, January 28 2022

The Houston Rockets enter Wednesday’s home game with plenty of momentum, as evidenced by their historic winning streak of six games immediately after a very long losing skid. But as former teammate James Harden returns to Toyota Center, the competition will rise sharply.

The last four wins of Houston’s current streak came against Oklahoma City twice, Orlando, and New Orleans. All are among the NBA’s worst five teams of the 2021-22 season by record. By contrast, the next two opponents for the Rockets are the Eastern Conference-leading Brooklyn Nets (17-7) and the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks (17-9).

Can the young and undermanned Rockets somehow keep their streak going, and perhaps enact some revenge on the superstar who left them 11 months ago? Here’s when you should tune in to see the game, which will be Harden’s second return visit to Toyota Center since the January 2021 blockbuster trade — but the first without any limits on fan capacity.

  • Date: Wednesday, Dec. 8

  • Time: 7 p.m. Central

  • TV Channel: AT&T SportsNet Southwest, NBA League Pass

  • Live Stream: fuboTV (watch for free in Houston markets)

Probable starting lineups

Houston Rockets (7-16)

Brooklyn Nets (17-7)

Daniel Theis is listed as a projected starter in Houston’s game notes, since he started Sunday versus New Orleans. However, head coach Stephen Silas indicated that the arrangement was largely due to the Pelicans starting a burly big man in the form of Jonas Valančiūnas. With the Nets utilizing an athletic and less physical frontcourt, our suspicion is that Silas returns Wood to center and opts for more shooting with Brooks.

The Rockets are again short-handed, with starting guards Kevin Porter Jr. (left thigh contusion) and Jalen Green (left hamstring strain) out indefinitely. Houston will also be missing veteran forward Danuel House Jr. (left ankle sprain), rookie forward Usman Garuba (right thigh contusion), and veteran guard John Wall, who has yet to play in any games this season as part of a mutual agreement over the offseason.

Some limited consolation for the Rockets could be that Brooklyn is on a back-to-back in two different cities, having played at Dallas on Tuesday. Houston hasn’t played since beating New Orleans on Sunday.

For Tuesday’s game, Brooklyn was without sharpshooter Joe Harris (left ankle surgery) and former All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, who is not with the team due to a dispute over New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements. The Nets are not required to issue Wednesday’s status report until earlier that day, since they are on a back-to-back.

This post originally appeared on Rockets Wire. Follow us on Facebook!

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