Rockets Win Streak Meets Toughest Stretch of the Season

Christian Wood has been spectacular this season. The Rockets will need more of that to get through the holidays.
Christian Wood has been spectacular this season. The Rockets will need more of that to get through the holidays. Screenshot
The Rockets on Sunday became the first team in NBA history to follow up a 15-game losing streak with a 6-game winning streak. It is a remarkable accomplishment for a team that has had some injury issues and is playing with essentially a college-aged team. But as impressive as the streak has been, it hasn't come against the cream of the NBA crop.

Their six wins came against five teams with a collective record of 50-75. Only Chicago (17-8) and Charlotte (14-12) have winning records. The other wins came against the Thunder (7-16) twice, Orlando (5-20) and New Orleans (7-19).

Now, at 7-16 themselves, the Rockets could have considered any team a challenge to beat given where they came from, but if they want to make real progress the next dozen or so games as they ring in 2022, they will have to do so against a much tougher slate of opponents. Never mind the five sets of back-to-back games between now and the start of the new year.

December 8 - Home for New Jersey

James Harden returns leading the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference to Toyota Center. If this turns into the Rockets seventh straight, there might be legitimate reason to consider this team has turned a corner.

December 10-11 - Back to Back home for Milwaukee, at Memphis

The defending champions are third in the East and the Grizzlies, with young star Ja Morant, are fourth in the West. Beating either is a tall task on any night, but doing it back to back with travel in between will be a massive task for the Rockets.

December 13 - at Atlanta

The Hawks have struggled a bit, but they sport the league's leading scorer in Trae Young and a high-powered offense that dropped 25 threes on Minnesota. Former Rockets Clint Capela is the kind of long, athletic big man that gives the Rockets trouble.

December 15-16 - Back to Back at Cleveland, home for New York

The final night of a three-game road trip finds the Rockets facing the surprising Cavs behind their young rookie sensation Evan Mobley. It appears unlikely Jalen Green will be back from injury yet, so the Green vs. Mobley debates will have to wait. For now, there is no comparison as Mobley is the odds on favorite for rookie of the year. The second half of this travel back-to-back set is against the disappointing, but still dangerous Knicks.

December 18 - at Detroit

The start of a five-game roadie over the Christmas holiday begins against the team with the league's worst record. Thing is, one of the Pistons four wins came against, you guessed it, the Rockets.

December 20 - at Chicago

The Bulls will no doubt want revenge for their loss at Houston that started the Rockets streak. Since losing at Toyota Center, they are 5-1.

December 22-23 - Back to Back at Milwaukee, at Indiana

Ho, ho, holy crap. Talk about a lump of coal in the stocking for the Rockets over Christmas and New Year's. Three straight back-to-back sets against some very tough opponents with only a short break for Christmas. Yikes. The first come at the Bucks before traveling to Indianapolis to face the mediocre Pacers.

December 27-28 - Back to Back at Charlotte, home for the Lakers

Merry Christmas! The Rockets come out of the brief holiday break to face a four-games-in-six nights run of games that start at the Hornets to close out their road trip before coming home to Houston to face the Lakers. Fun!

December 31-January 1 - Back to Back, home for the Heat and Nuggets

The Rockets ring in the new year with their typical New Year's Eve game at Toyota Center, this time against Miami. But before they even get a chance to eat some black eyed peas and watch a few bowl games, they'll have to deal with a somewhat disappointing Nuggets team. Tough start to the year.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke