The Houston Rockets move on without James Harden in their first post-Harden game against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center. The AT&T Center has deployed a team of robots to keep the facility clean and hopefully prevent any Covid-19 transmission in the arena. It was only a matter of time before the NBA had to cancel games, and the Spurs are hoping to avoid what might be the inevitable eventually.
The Spurs have been playing adequate basketball, and hold a record of 6-5 entering Thursday night in Texas. It’s adequate, but not exactly what Gregg Popovich drew up at the beginning of the season, but it was expected that they’d be mediocre. This is a season where we might see Popovich blow the current roster up, and look towards building a roster for one final push before retirement in the future.
Demar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge have to be on the trade block in San Antonio. They are not getting any younger, and their value isn’t going up from here. The Spurs aren’t going to win with DeRozan and Aldridge as the centerpieces in the Western Conference, so it would be in everybody’s best interest to move on. DeRozan was part of the Kawhi Leonard trade, which sent Leonard to Toronto to win an NBA title.
Leonard had the last laugh, and he found his way back home to Los Angeles. DeRozan might have been the only person from that situation where everything didn’t work out well. He clearly didn’t want to be traded, and still talks about the deal from time to time. One guy who did want to be traded was Harden. He’s free and finally gets to move out of Houston for Brooklyn. I don’t know how well Harden and Kyrie Irving will mesh together, but the Nets are obviously a really talented team if everything gels. That’s a big if, though.
The Rockets head into San Antonio with a record of 3-6. They’re coming off two losses against the LA Lakers, 120-102 and 117-100 home in Houston. It was a disappointing follow up after smashing the Orlando Magic, 132-90. Harden was an average scorer in that game, below average for his standards, with 15 points and 13 assists.
Harden’s attitude was clearly poor this season, and he was doing his best to get traded. It worked and now the Rockets can move on. While many will write it’s a negative for the Rockets, the locker room is now free of a huge distraction now, though. That can’t hurt at all for the Rockets going forward this season. Head below for our free Rockets vs. Spurs pick on January 14, 2021.
Houston Rockets vs. San Antonio Spurs NBA Betting Odds:
Rockets vs. Spurs Prediction:
The Rockets can now start fresh without James Harden hanging over their heads. He’s the Brooklyn Nets’ problem now. Harden is without doubt a good player when he’s motivated and wants to play up to his full potential, but he was not the same guy with the Rockets. With that in mind, the Rockets are better off without him in Houston. He didn’t care to be in Houston.
John Wall has made it abundantly clear that Harden was making it harder on the team than helping out. With Harden gone, Wall must take on a bigger role on this team. However, we’re not going to see Wall tonight because of a sore left knee. Victor Oladipo is not yet ready to play for the Rockets, so don’t expect him on the floor.
Conversely, the Spurs could be without DeRozan tonight. He is questionable to play because of a personal decision. No word on what the reason is, but it would seem questionable for personal reason suggests he won’t play. The Spurs have been average on both sides of the floor in 2020-21.
They are just treading water at the moment. San Antonio has scored 111.2 points per game, 17th in the NBA, and conceding 112.1 points a game for 18th. They haven’t cared for playing at the AT&T Center this season, with both their offensive and defensive numbers dropping at home. The Spurs have netted 109.5 points and allowed 118.5 points per game in San Antonio.
The Rockets have scored 114.7 points per game on the road. I don’t think getting rid of a guy that quit on the team is bad for the Rockets. Sure, if Harden cared and was playing to win games, then it would have been a big loss. You also have to believe that this group is going to have a chip on their shoulder following the trade. We will likely see the Rockets play hard in this one. I have to take the points with the Rockets.