The Indiana Pacers have had a flying start to the 2020-21 NBA season. However, their next opponents, the Houston Rockets, have had mixed fortunes so far after an eventful off-season.
Both sides have extremely talented rosters and have shooters who have started the season on the front foot. Across the court there will be key battles that could decide the outcome of the clash.
Aiding Harden on the scoreboard this year are Rockets newcomers Christian Wood and John Wall. Wood, an NBA journeyman, is on his sixth team in as many seasons, although he seems to have found his place in Houston. The former UNLV center is averaging a career-high 23.6 points in five games started this year. Wall, the former no. 1 overall draft pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, was acquired in a blockbuster offseason trade that sent Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards. In his first year with a new team, Wall is averaging 21.3 points and 6.3 assists per contest.
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Most of Houston’s struggles can be attributed to its subpar defense to start the season. The Rockets come into their matchup against the Pacers with the seventh-lowest defensive rating, allowing 113.1 points per 100 possessions. The Blue & Gold should find plenty of success on the offensive end against the visitors, as coach Nate Bjorkgren’s high-flying offense has the NBA’s sixth-highest offensive rating (113 points per 100 possessions).
There should be plenty of space on the floor to find the open man throughout this contest. Three Pacers starters — Malcolm Brogdon, Victor Oladipo, and Domantas Sabonis — are averaging 20 points or more through the first seven games of the season. Look for the squad to share the ball and continue that trend during this game. The Pacers rank fourth in the NBA in assists per game (27.7).
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Houston raced out to a 20-5 lead early in the first. But Indiana responded with a 21-8 surge to keep within striking distance for the majority of the game. The Blue & Gold held slim leads at both halftime (51-50) and the third quarter (79-77) as the game remained tight to the final seconds. A Chris Clemons three pulled Houston to within four, 106-102, with 2:22 to play. However, neither team then scored for the next two minutes of action. Harden’s layup with 26.7 seconds remaining then cut Indiana’s lead to just two
Houston Rockets vs Indiana Pacers Match Prediction
Both the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers are arguably top-four teams in their respective conferences.
There will be several exciting matchups across the floor including the one between the two side’s young centers, Christian Wood and Myles Turner. Both players are elite rim protectors, who have averaged two and 3.6 blocks per game respectively so far this season.