The NBA is still mostly a crapshoot. Injuries, interpersonal fueds, etc can derail even the most talented team.
By Chris Lane
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Key Game/Stretch: At L.A. for the return of Dwight Howard the first game following the All-Star break on national TV.
If there's a time for the Rockets to feast on the weak, it's the month of February. Despite playing seven of their ten games on the road, they face only two projected playoff teams and two others that likely will be on the bubble. Dwight Howard returns to L.A. for the first time on February 19 (the start of the longest road trip of the season — eight games), but the pivotal game may come a day later in Oakland against Golden State.
Projected Record: 8-2
Home Games: 8
Away Games: 5
Back to Backs: 2
Key Game/Stretch: At Miami on ABC for their first and only network game of the year.
March offers a glimpse of what might be to come as the battle for playoff seeding heats up. Even though there are only five road games, three are at OKC, Chicago and Miami, all of whom should be the cream of the crop in the NBA again this season. The Rockets play the Clippers at home later in the month and the world champs for the second time as Miami brings the LeBron James circus to Toyota Center. The Miami games may be hopeful Finals wishcasting, but the Thunder and Clippers could be actual playoff previews.
Projected Record: 9-5
Home Games: 4
Away Games: 6
Back to Backs: 3
National TV: at Brooklyn (TNT), vs. Thunder (ESPN), at Los Angeles Lakers (TNT), vs. Spurs (NBATV)
Key Game/Stretch: On the road for back-to-back games at the Lakers and at Denver.
No one knows what Denver will be like after their team was dismantled last year and George Karl was removed as head coach, so playing them twice in four days could be a blessing or a curse. But with games at Brooklyn and home for OKC and San Antonio, Denver will be the least of the Rockets' worries. If they're healthy, they could be rolling toward the playoffs or could still be struggling to find themselves. My money is on the former.
Projected Record: 6-4
Projected Season Record: 54-28
Vegas Rockets Wins Over/Under: 54.5