Rockets vs. Pistons: Preview, Analysis and Predictions for Jeremy Lin's Debut

Kelly Scaletta@@KellyScalettaFeatured ColumnistOctober 30, 2012

The Houston Rockets have added plenty of players this offseason. Few are more apt for the Rockets moniker than Jeremy Lin, whose celestial ascent last year could not have occurred more quickly. Never has the phrase "rocketed to stardom" been more appropriately used. 

The Rockets will also be adding their newly acquired superstar to the backcourt, which should give the Rockets season opener plenty of intrigue. 

They'll be traveling to Detroit to take on the Pistons, who quietly played the last two-thirds of the season near .500 ball, winning 20 of their final 41 games. 

Which young team will come out winners on opening night? Will Harden and Lin prove themselves a top-five backcourt? Will the Pistons be ready to contend for the postseason?

The questions will began to be answered on opening night. 

Time: 7:30 EDT

TV: FSD, CSN Houston

Records: Houston (0-0), Detroit (0-0)

Betting Line: Detroit -3 (Via

Injuries: Detroit: Corey Maggette, (calf) day-to-day is expected to play.

Houston: No injuries reported.


Key Storylines

How Well Will Houston's New Backcourt Play?

Houston suddenly finds itself holding one of the most exciting young backcourts in the game with Jeremy Lin and James Harden. Both players have an ability to shoot, drive and pass, so they could very well easily combine to form an exciting tandem. 

The question is, how will they mesh? Who will emerge as the No. 1 option? If it's Harden, how effectively will Lin share the ball? 

Much of this will work out over time, but the first game together will certainly garner attention. 

Which Direction Are the Pistons Headed in?

Can the Pistons vie for a playoff spot? Led by their young center, Greg Monroe—who might very well be the most underrated player in the game today—they finished the season up and down, going on winning streaks followed by losing streaks followed by winning streaks. 

The key for the Pistons will be whether they can establish consistency, and coming out to start the season strong would go a long way toward establishing that trend. 


Key Matchup

There is no secret that the Pistons will need to get Monroe going, but the Rockets went out and signed Omer Asik for a reason. It's not the tremendous offense he brings—it's the tremendous defense.

Often when we look at key matchups we're looking at whether one player can outproduce another. This is a better indication because it's on the same end of the court, strength against strength. Will Asik be able to stop Monroe? Over the last two seasons, no player with at least 1,000 minutes played has a lower defensive rating.

While Monroe averaged 52 percent shooting on the season, he shot only 40 percent against Asik, per's Advanced Stats. How much of that was Asik and how much was Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, though? 

This will be a good indication as Monroe offers a fair challenge. It will also offer a fair challenge to Monroe. It might not be the most heralded matchup of the opening day bouts, but it should be a fascinating one. 



Jeremy Lin, G, Houston Rockets

Lin will dictate how the Houston Rockets play. He averaged six points and six assists during the preseason, while shooting a mere .283 from the field. If Lin forces the ball he could lead to tragic results for the Rockets. 

On the other hand, the six assists are quite meaningful, especially considering they came in just 25 minutes a night. Translated to 36 minutes, more traditional starter minutes it is easy to see him putting up close to nine assists per night. Adding Harden could even push that figure into double digits. 

If Lin plays under control and worries more about creating shot opportunities for his teammates and taking what the defense gives him, the Rockets should roll to a win in Detroit. 

Brandon Knight, G, Detroit

The Pistons will be retaliating with second year point guard, Brandon Knight. Knight is a combo guard who has been plugged in alongside another combo guard and former point guard moved to shooting guard, Rodney Stuckey. 

The word "pure point guard" is an antiquated notion as point guards are no longer asked to shoot only when all other options have failed, but the Pistons need a point who is more concerned with running the offense than his offense. 

In other words it's not a question of whether you shoot first or pass first but whether you chose the best option, be it passing or shooting. Knight needs to elevate his game and establish he make the right decisions this year. If he does, the Pistons could be in the postseason mix. 

Going against Lin, an underrated defensive player, he should have that opportunity. 


Depth Charts: Here's a look at each team's depth chart. 




Prediction: Rockets 97-90 

The Houston Rockets spoil the opener for the Pistons faithful as the tandem of Harden and Lin combine for 42 points and 14 assists. Try as they might Stuckey and Knight simply can't respond in kind as Harden and Lin lock them down defensively. 

Meanwhile Asik wins his battle with Monroe in a manner of speaking. While Monroe outscores Asik 13-11, the Rockets happily take that result. Asik also grabs a game-high 15 rebounds. 


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