How long will the Rockets' win streak last?

How far will the Rockets go before their winning streak ends?

After winning a hard-fought game against the Milwaukee Bucks last night, the Houston Rockets extended their winning streak to 13. Not only is it the longest active streak, its Houston's longest win streak since 2007-08, when they won 22 in a row.

Simply put, the Rockets are the hottest team in the league. James Harden is as magnificent as ever and the addition of Chris Paul has gone better than anybody could have expected. In fact, they are undefeated when he plays. Their offense remains superior while adding major improvements to the defensive side of the ball. They rank second overall in net rating and they don't seem like they are going to slow down anytime soon.

To that end, how long will it be until we can expect the Rockets to lose? Their next eight games have six teams that have a sub.500 record. Now, of course, a team can win on any given night, however, considering the Rockets' dominance, it's not likely that any of those teams pose a legitimate threat to ending their streak. The Utah Jazz could pull an upset, but with Rudy Gobert sidelined, that's not likely. The Oklahoma City Thunder could also pose a threat, but consider the teams they've lost to and the fact that they are so discombobulated, a loss to them also doesn't seem likely. The rest of the losing teams just don't have enough firepower to consider them a serious threat.

The Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards are the two teams with a winning record. The Wizards are a great team, however, at 16-13, they haven't performed up to par. Granted, a lot of that has to do with John Wall missing some time, but with CP's notoriety of being one of the best defenders, things could get tough for Wall. Bradley Beal can drop 30 any given night but with Houston's perimeter defenders, it won't be an easy task. Outside of those two guys, the Wizards don't have much in the way of offensive-minded players. Although the Wizards do have a top 10 defense, trying to slow down the Rockets' fast-paced offense would be a daunting task for even the number one defensive team.

That brings me to the Celtics. Assuming the Rockets don't lose until their matchup, the Celtics will easily be their toughest matchup. The Celtics have put the clamps on teams all season long, which was a huge reason why they went on their own 16 game win streak, earlier in the season. However, the Rockets' offense really cannot be understated. During this win streak, they have beaten all of those teams by at least 10 points, with the exception of three. They are shooting approximately nine more 3's then the next team and as a result, are making approximately four more than the next team.
Also, as a result of their fast-paced attacks, they rank fourth in free throws attempted and rank first in free throws made. Their offense will absolutely be a daunting task for the Celtics to handle.

On the flip side of that, the Celtics rank 19th in points per game. They rank 25th in field goals made and as a result rank 19th in FG%. Outside of Kyrie Irving, the Celtics don't have anyone who can generate instant offense. In fact, in the most recent game Irving sat out, the Celtics got torched 108-85 by the Chicago Bulls, who have been on a bit of a stretch lately but still doesn't warrant an excuse for a loss like that. All in all, while this may be a tough matchup, expect the Rockets to come out on top.

If they do happen to win their next eight games, their winning streak would be up to 21 and set up a showdown with the Golden State Warriors. Assuming all sides are completely healthy, this will be one of the best games of the season. The Rockets took the first meeting between these two teams. That game wasn't played to its full potential, however. CP was playing on an injured leg, which is what caused him to miss a month. For the Warriors, Draymond Green went down with a knee strain at the end of the third and didn't return. Up until that point, the Warriors were in control of the game and Green's injury could be the main reason why they lost. It also could have to do with the fact that they have three of the top scorers in the league and Nick Young was their leading scorer with 23 points in that game. Nobody should be expecting that to be the same result at their next meeting.

Ultimately, this is where the Rockets' streak will most likely come to an end. The Warriors just have too many weapons on all sides of the floor. Even if the Rockets were to deploy their own small-ball lineup, which consists of one of P.J. Tucker or Luc Mbah A Moute playing the five, they would be too small to guard a guy of Green's size.

Both teams have insanely effective systems, but the Warriors might have a better one based on their ball distribution. The Warriors lead the league in assists and continuously move the ball around until they get the best possible shot. Everyone on the team moves the ball so well that they all help create opportunities for their teammates. The Rockets on the other hand only have Harden and CP to produce genuine ball movement and playmaking. Between them, CP and Harden average 18.3 assists out of 22.6 for the Rockets. That means that among 13 other guys, they can only muster almost 5 assists. That is what will ultimately be the deal breaker between these two teams.

The Rockets' hyper offense won't be able to save them against this team because the Warriors can produce just as well offensively. In fact, the Warriors rank first in offensive rating. On top of that, the Warriors are far superior defensively, ranking second in defensive rating.

The Rockets can definitely win this game, but with the possibility of riding a 21 game win streak into this game, the wear and tear will weigh them down, which is something they can't afford against a team of the Warriors' caliber. If they do win this game, on top of all the others, then the Rockets will have tied their longest win streak in franchise history, with an opportunity to break that record in a matchup against the Detroit Pistons in their next game.

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