Philadelphia 76ers at Houston Rockets (-15)
Tomorrow night, the NBA’s worst team, the Philadelphia 76ers, travels to Houston to face the Western Conference-leading Rockets at the Toyota Center (8:00 p.m. Eastern).
The Rockets have blasted to a 7-1 start with superstars James Harden and Dwight Howard leading the charge. Houston’s only loss so far this season came against 5-2 Golden State when Howard was out with the flu.
Harden has picked up where he left off last season, averaging 25.4 points per game (third in the NBA) to go along with 7.1 assists and 6.7 rebounds. Howard has been a monster on both ends of the floor for Houston. He is averaging 19.7 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game. Third year forward Terrence Jones has also chipped in nicely, averaging 14 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks a night. While Houston had a solid season last year, finishing fourth in the powerful Western Conference, they look like top-dogs early in this campaign, having dispatched both San Antonio and Miami in addition to several lesser teams. While we were sceptical of Houston’s early defensive success (postulating that it may be a product of playing bad teams at the start of the year), the Rockets have kept it up over their last four games. After surrendering over 103 points per game last year, Houston is still giving up just 92.1 this season.
Prior to their game with the Mavericks tonight, the Sixers are the only winless team left in the league, sitting at 0-7. They are losing by an average margin of 12.8 points and are woeful at both ends of the floor. Their defense is third-worst in the NBA (106.1 PPG) and their offense isn’t much better, sitting fifth-worst in the Association (93.3 PPG).
The lone bright spot for Philly has been the play of third-year guard Tony Wroten. The former Washington Husky is averaging 21.9 points per game, which is up from 13 last year and is also 11 more than anyone else on the team.
The Sixers have held their own in the recent head-to-head against the Rockets, winning five of the last ten. But this year’s squads are markedly different from those that squared off in the past. On paper, the Rockets should dispatch the Sixers with ease, as reflected by the 15-point spread.
(Photo credit: 2O (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)
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