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Open Thread: Game 20

Editor's Note: This post was originally written on December 9

Regular Season Game 20
Rockets (13-6) vs. Wizards (9-10)
Verizon Center
7 PM
CSN and NBA League Pass

Previous Matchups: Rockets 86, Wizards 82

Tonight, the Houston Rockets come into town to play the Wizards at 7 PM.  A win would put the Wizards back at .500 for the first time since very early in the season.

Houston's a team I really like.  They have two big stars and great surrounding role players.  The key to their improvement this season has been defensively.  Shane Battier has been a revelation on the defensive end all year, and Yao and T-Mac have stepped up their game on the defensive end.  The Rockets are coming off games where they've held teams to 63 and 62 points, and they held the Wizards to only 82 points in the first matchup.

Offensively, the Wizards need to guard Tracy McGrady well.  He's the one that makes the Rockets go, and he's really improved his offensive playmaking ability.  Yao of course is the go-to-guy, but the Wizards have to be careful about doubling him because he's a great passer and will kick it out to open shooters.  The Wizards have to make Yao and T-Mac beat them on their own.  I would honestly suggest single covering Yao most of the game to take guys like Rafer Alston and Luther Head out of the game.

On the other end, Antawn Jamison remains the key.  Last night's game was the first the Wizards won all year when he had under 18 points.  The Rockets aren't going to give anything easily, so Jamison, Arenas, and Butler need to attack the tin.  If the Rockets win the free throw battle tonight, it's a recipe for disaster.

Rockets Blogs: Rockets Blast, Clutch Fans.

The Wizards are at home, so I like their chances.  Battier will probably stick to guarding Caron Butler, leaving Alston on Arenas.  The Wizards stunk in the last game against the Rockets, and at home, I expect the offense to be much better.  Guarding Yao will be key.  He'll get his points, but you can't let him get his assists.  The Wizards need to turn Houston into a two-man team to win this one.

Prediction: Wizards 94, Rockets 80

If you're online during the game, give a shout!