The Rockets are in second place in the Southwest division with an 11-5 record under coach Kevin McHale. Winners of six of their last seven games, the Rockets lead the NBA in points per game (109.0) and are second only to the Miami Heat in Offensive Rating, with 108.9 points per 100 possessions through 16 games this season.
The Nets are currently dead last in the NBA with a Defensive Rating of 106.1 through 15 games, but they may be getting a boost with Brook Lopez a game-time decision to return tonight.
Lopez, by far the Nets' best offensive player, has also become Brooklyn's most important defensive player as well this season.
Last season, the Rockets swept the two-game season series with the Nets, and Houston has actually won the previous 13 matchups between these two teams. The Nets have not beaten the Rockets since March 13, 2006.
Key Matchup: Center Dwight Howard has finally found a permanent home in Houston, and if Lopez is able to suit up, all eyes will be on the big men in the middle who were often rumored to potentially be traded for one another a few years ago.
The 27-year-old Howard has never been the strongest offensive player, but he is still one of the premier defenders and rebounders in the game. Meanwhile, the 25-year-old Lopez is arguably the best offensive center in the game, and the two big men in the middle match up well with their contrasting styles.
If Lopez is unable to go, Andray Blatche will get the start at center and will likely match up with Howard. Mason Plumlee, Kevin Garnett and Reggie Evans may also get a chance to match up with Howard whether Lopez plays tonight or not.
Player to Watch: Mirza Teletovic has earned himself a larger role in the Nets rotation recently, with 21 minutes played in each of the last two games. The 28-year-old sharpshooter went 4-of-7 from behind the arc Wednesday night, helping fuel the Nets' rally. Teletovic also had a total of 10 rebounds in the 42 minutes he's played this week, and he'll certainly carve out a role for himself if he continues to play well.