X

Rockets 2019-20 Schedule: Top Games, Championship Odds and Record Predictions

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistAugust 12, 2019

HOUSTON, TX - MAY 10: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball against the Golden State Warriors during Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on May 10, 2019 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Bill Baptist/Getty Images

There will be a lot of eyes on the Houston Rockets this season after they added Russell Westbrook to pair with James Harden.  

The team swapped Chris Paul and draft picks for Westbrook this offseason, providing the team with a second high-usage player who can fill up the box score but could have questions about efficiency. There is even more debate about how the two star guards will play together offensively.

However, there are no doubts about the talent on the roster, featuring two of the last three MVP winners as well as other impact players like Clint Capela and Eric Gordon. 

The Western Conference is loaded once again, but the upcoming year at the Toyota Center will be an intriguing one.

          

2019-20 Details

Season Opener: Oct. 24 vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Championship Odds: 11-1 (via Caesars)

Full Schedule: NBA.com

         

Top Matchups

Golden State Warriors (First Game: Nov. 6)

Eric Gay/Associated Press

The Warriors have been a thorn in the Rockets' side for years, and that won't be forgotten even with some significant personnel changes.

Kevin Durant left in free agency, while Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston are also gone. Klay Thompson is recovering from a torn ACL that will keep him out for much of next season.

Still, Golden State has eliminated Houston from the playoffs in four of the last five years, and there is still plenty of talent on the roster between Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and D'Angelo Russell.

The Rockets have spent several years trying to figure out how to beat the Warriors, and they will hope their offseason additions and their rival's departures will be enough to finally turn the tide. Westbrook struggled against Golden State last year (18 total points in two games), but things will be easier if he doesn't have to face Thompson and Iguodala.

At the very least, there should be some high-scoring battles with two teams that know how to get buckets but have major questions on the defensive end of the court.

       

Los Angeles Clippers (First Game: Nov. 13)

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

It's been two years since the locker room confrontation between the Rockets and Clippers—and Los Angeles has a much different roster—but there could still be fireworks during the matchups this season.

The Clippers added Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to an already deep lineup, making them the title favorites heading into the 2019-20 season. Any game against them during the regular season could be a measuring stick to judge other contenders.

Additionally, this series should be filled with exciting storylines.

George and Westbrook can go head-to-head after a pair of up-and-down seasons together with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Clippers big man Montrezl Harrell can get more revenge against the team that traded him after averaging 20 points, seven rebounds and two blocks per game in three appearances (two wins) versus Houston last year.

The games could also pit together an elite Rockets offense against what should be a dominant Clippers defense thanks to Leonard, George and Patrick Beverley.

Adding in the star power available with at least five or six players capable of dropping 40 points, there could be some fun battles.

       

Prediction

Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

This season will come down to how Westbrook and Harden play together offensively.

Sure, they were teammates in Oklahoma City, but both have expanded their games since then and are used to having the ball in their hands. They will need to figure out how to both work within Mike D'Antoni's system while also deciding who will take the key shots in crunch time.

On the plus side, the guard play and Capela's continued improvement will allow the team to cruise through most of the season and get into the playoffs.

Unfortunately, the Rockets weren't the only team to improve this offseason. The Clippers, Lakers and Jazz also made significant strides this summer, while the Warriors, Nuggets and Trail Blazers should remain top contenders.

The competition in the Western Conference could lead to a challenging regular season for Houston before another early exit in the playoffs.

Record Prediction: 52-30