Wolves vs. Rockets
9:00 pm CST
The Wolves are back in Mexico City for another try to play a game as part of the NBA's international marketing initiative cleverly called Global Games. Last season, the Wolves were scheduled to play the Spurs in Mexico City, but the game was cancelled due to a fire in the arena. Hopefully there won't be another such episode.
This year's opponents are the Houston Rockets, off to a blistering 6-1 start, fueled by the top defensive rating (!) in the league, along with a potent offense that currently ranks 10th.
The Rockets of course push the envelope of modern offensive strategy by leading the league in three point attempts while also ranking 3rd in FTA rate. Outside the arc or at the rim is the mantra of the Rockets; they are last in the league in percentage of shots taken from 10 feet to the three point line. Meanwhile, 43.6% of their shot attempts this season have been threes.
This of course presents a huge contrast with the Wolves, who do not feature the three heavily, but instead have been relying on midrange jump shots to fuel their offense.
The Rockets are led by James Harden, who is scoring 25 a night and leading a parade to the free throw line; he's going to be a brutal match up for the Wolves who really have nobody who can guard him. New acquisition Trevor Ariza has been feasting on open threes created by Rockets' drives, and Dwight Howard is shooting 62% from the field.
The Rockets are missing a couple of key players for tonight's game: Patrick Beverly and Terrence Jones are out. It hasn't really slowed them down, however, though they did suffer their first loss in their last game against the Warriors. Howard also missed that one, but should be ready to go tonight.
Defensively, the Rockets have turned the corner on last season's struggles, and currently lead the league in opponents' efg%. This has been in large part thanks to forcing misses from their opponents outside the arc--teams are only shooting 27% from three against them. While that's likely at least in part just luck, it's unlikely to change tonight as the Wolves don't shoot a lot of threes and don't have a lot of guys who can make them consistently.
The Wolves will once again start Zach LaVine at point guard, and it's likely to be a tough go for the rookie against one of the top teams in the league. It's tough to see what the Wolves can exploit against a well-balanced Rockets team, and it's just as hard to see how they are going to stop the Rox offense.
This is a rare national television game for the Wolves; let's hope they can keep it competitive. There hasn't been a true blowout yet this season; here's hoping this isn't a recipe game.
Here's a link to our blogging buddies for the evening at The Dream Shake. Be excellent.
No, no, and no.
Enjoy the game. Chat about it here.