The Houston Rockets started 2013 as hot as any NBA team.
Houston won their first four games in January by defeating opponents by an average of 12 points. They improved their record to 21-14 and looked to be on their way to a postseason berth.
Ten days later, the Rockets are in the midst of their worst stretch of the season. Houston has lost five consecutive games, and to teams like the Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Hornets, who have losing records.
On Friday night, the club will look to turn things around against one of the best teams in the East. The Rockets will visit the Indiana Pacers for a 7 p.m. ET tip-off. You can watch a live stream online by purchasing NBA League Pass Broadband.
Indiana leads the Central Division with a 24-16 record. The club has won 14 of its last 19 games.
It could be one of the most interesting matchups this season. The Rockets are the second-highest scoring team at 105.4 points per game. The Pacers sport the league’s best defense, allowing just 89.1 points per game. Conversely, Houston is the league’s worst defensive team, while Indiana is 29th in points scored.
Will Indiana stifle Houston’s offense, or will the explosive combination of James Harden and Jeremy Lin be too much for the Pacers to handle?
Even in the Rockets recent losses, they’ve been able to put up points. They scored at least 100 points in their past three defeats.
However, Indiana has proven that they can slow down the best offenses in basketball. In recent matchups with the New York Knicks and Miami Heat, they gave up 76 and 77 points, respectively. They’ve given up 100 points just once since Dec.9.
Lin and Harden seem to have lost some of the chemistry they found last month. The two combined to shoot 11-for-36 from the field in their last loss, and have had trouble sharing the ball. Harden is scoring 26.3 points per game, but Lin’s average has dropped to 12.3.
With the game in Indiana, the Pacers are expected to win. They are 4.5-point favorites at most Las Vegas casinos.
Prediction: Indiana 92, Houston 87