Not sure why but I always like to read what the other teams writers arre writing about.
Thought this was worthy of linking. I liked how the writer suggests the Pacers more than any other team, sticks to their style of play.
Rockets prepare for Pacers, test they could not call ‘just another game’
As much as the Rockets might have felt the urge to describe their meeting with the Pacers tonight as just the next game, no more or less important in the standings than any other game, they didn’t bother.
There are a handful of teams at the top of the standings, with indisputable contender status. The Rockets aspire to join them. The most direct route, at least in December, would be to beat another member of the club. At the very least, going against the likes of the Pacers could be considered a “fun” way for players to compete, as James Harden put it. In the big picture, it is a very tough and potentially informative test.
“It’s fun,” Harden said. “Obviously, it’s another regular-season game. It doesn’t count more or less than any other game, but it’s fun to be playing a team coming off the Eastern Conference Finals, playing really well and have a lot of great players on the team.”
To Harden, the most obvious of those great players could be Paul George, who has spent much of last season’s two games against the Rockets shutting down the Rockets’ top scorer. Harden made 25.6 percent of his shots against George and the Pacers last season.
He said he believes George brings extra motivation to his assignments against him, which makes sense since Harden said he especially looks forward to going against George.
“Definitely. I do the same for him, as well,” Harden said. “I think every great player in this league gets up for another great player. The challenge is to compete. We’re both competitors. We love to win.”
Dwight Howard might be able to say the same of his match up with Roy Hibbert, who called Howard “the best center in the league.” Howard, however, said he avoids thoughts about individual matchups. When told of Hibbert placing him at the top of the center rankings, Howard laughed, but passed when invited to declare Hibbert “next best,” perhaps to avoid calling himself best.
“I just want to make my team better,” Howard said. “I don’t see this as a one-on-one matchup. That’s not my mindset. You think of an individual matchup with somebody, you don’t play as well as you need to play. You go out there and do as well as you can for the team, do the small things to win the game. That’s what matters the most.
“He’s having a great year. He’s one of the best centers in the NBA. It’s going to be a fun game.”
In many ways, however, the Rockets knew it could be more. Even Rockets coach Kevin McHale did not fall back on the “just another game,” preferring to consider it “a great test.”
“They’re going to try to slow us down, grind us out,” McHale said. “We got to keep moving the ball, attacking them, don’t let them get set. They’re very similar to playing Chicago except that these guys will grind even longer on the offensive end. They got guys that make tough shots and they’ll pound the ball with (Roy) Hibbert, (Luis) Scola and (David) West.
“Every game counts as one game, but there are games that have significance, more importance. This is one of those nights we play a team that’s a very good team, played very well. We’re on the road. They’ve lost two in a row. They’re going to come out hungry. This is a great test for us.”
In some ways more than the Trail Blazers or Spurs, whom the Rockets have defeated on the road, will offer the kind of test the Rockets have rarely faced. Few teams more reliably adhere to their style. Few know their style and consistently stick to it more than the Pacers.
That does bring up the way the Rockets hope it will be just another game. As well as the Pacers reliably play their style, the Rockets hope to stick to theirs. They did against the Bulls, pushing tempo and getting in the lane before the Bulls could set up one of the league’s best halfcourt defenses. It will be considerably tougher against the league’s best defense.
“We have to play to our style,” forward Chandler Parsons said. “We’re not going to play any differently. We’re not going to change anything because they’re having a good year.”
If they can do that, it could be just another game after all. Few, however, pretended that they thought of a meeting with the front running Pacers that way.