The Rockets are 9-19 on the year, with 78% of their victories coming during a recent 7-game win streak. While the team is playing better overall heading into the December 16th Knicks at Rockets matchup, Houston could be in trouble Thursday night very shorthanded and also playing on the back to back following a 35-point loss to Cleveland.
The Knicks don’t feel sorry for Houston at all, mired in the midst of a four game losing streak and having dropped 7 of their last 8 overall. New York fell 105-96 at home against Golden State on Tuesday in a game in which Steph Curry broke the NBA’s all-time three point record. It was the third straight game that the Knicks were held under 100 points, yet they are still -5 point favorites on Thursday night.
Knicks Far From Full Strength
Houston isn’t the only team battling some possible absences in the December 16th Knicks at Rockets matchup. New York is down Obi Toppin, R.J. Barrett, Quentin Grimes, and Kevin Knox II who are all in the health and safety protocols after positive COVID tests. Those are no small losses, Barret had scored 19+ in three straight, Toppin was coming off a 19-10 double-double, Grimes had 27 on Sunday in his first career start, and Knox had 18 points off the bench in Sunday’s loss to the Bucks.
Even with the four players who are out on Thursday, the Knicks are still -5 point road favorites Thursday with 67% of the public liking the visitors. Part of that has to do with how bad Houston is playing with losses in three of their last four (as well as how banged up the Rockets are), but it’s also because New York still has a lot of depth.
Expect Tom Thibodeau to focus the game plan around Julius Randle on Thursday night. The big man had 31 points in the loss to Golden State, finally breaking out of a four game scoring slump. Derrick Rose has also scored 18 and 15 in starting the last two games.
Rockets in a Tough Spot
Being shorthanded is bad enough, but having to play a few men down and also on a back to back doesn’t give the Rockets much of a chance on Thursday night. Unlike the Knicks who have been dealt a blow by positive COVID tests, Houston is facing actual injuries as Danuel House (ankle), Eric Gordon (groin), and Kevin Porter, Jr. (thigh) all in danger of missing the Knicks matchup.
Christian Wood (knee) is also questionable for the Knicks after missing Wednesday night’s loss to the Cavaliers. One good thing about the blowout loss to Cleveland is that Stephen Silas was able to go pretty deep on his bench with nobody playing more than 29 minutes.
December 16th Knicks at Rockets Pick
Is it a second consecutive blowout loss for Houston? There is always the possibility that Gordon – who had 32 points in a win over Atlanta on Monday – and Wood suit up for the Rockets and were just sitting out against the Cavs because of the back to back. That’s a big unknown though, and with just one starter scoring in double figures for the Rockets on Wednesday this one just looks like a mismatch.
Knicks 113 – Rockets 99
Free Pick: Knicks -5