It is interesting how some numbers just don't tell you the whole story when it comes to match-ups. Take Friday night's tip-off with the Rockets heading to Indiana to play the Pacers. Houston is second in the league with the highest point average per game at 109 and have the second best free-throw percentage at 83.5%. They also are third in the league in rebounds with an average of 46 per game. Sounds impressive right? Then again, if you looked at their dismal 1-6 record, you'd be scratching your head of why this team isn't doing so well.
Let's just say when you dig deeper into the numbers, Houston as a team has the worst defense in the league giving up a little more than 110 points a game. While they crash the boards well, so do their opponents at an astonishing 47.7 a game. This could be difficult for Houston to overcome since they are facing the third best team in terms of three-pointers. Indiana averages 9.3 from deep and if Houston continues their rebounding woes, Indiana could possibly have more attempts at least and maybe have a huge game from outside with four or five extra.
Injuries will play a bit of a role as well as Houston's Yao Ming is day-to-day with a leg injury and guard Aaron Brooks is out indefinitely with an ankle injury. Forward Jeff Foster for the Pacers is the only casualty for Friday night's game with an ankle injury of his own.
Indiana has won the last four meetings between the two teams and stand at 3-3 right now and tied for first with Cleveland and Chicago in the NBA Eastern Conference's Central Division. They are currently 2-1 at home while another negative looms on Houston with no wins on the road in four tries. Houston is already six games back of division leader New Orleans and need to turn things around.
Houston's Scula (22.7 ppg) and Martin (24.1 ppg) will have to carry the team and keep out of foul trouble as Indiana has one of the best equally-distributed scoring teams in the league with six players averaging double-digits per game scoring and an average of five rebounds or better to each of them. The key players to watch will be the usual suspects of Granger, Rush, Hibbert and Dunleavey with frequent visits from Tyler Hansbrough to the hardwood.
Unfortunately all thumbs up on Indiana for this one from a player and statistical vantage point as everything that can go wrong for Houston right now is going wrong. If they can find a way to cut down on the opposition's boards and play better defense, they can turn things around as the season is very young yet and this would be the time to make amends and be more competitive on the road as well as within their own division.