Houston Rockets vs. Orlando Magic game preview: start time, how to watch, injuries

Welcome to the start of the 2023-24 NBA season here at The Dream Shake. We are thrilled to have you join us for this journey.

The current version of the Houston Rockets has a lot to prove after three disappointing seasons. In 2022-23, they finished tied for the second-worst record in the league (22-60). The two previous seasons were even worse with the Rockets finishing with the worst record overall (20-62 and 17-55). To say that the Rockets were barely better than a G-League team would be an understatement.

Houston has undergone significant changes in the past few years, with the most prominent being a coaching change. Ime Udoka, who previously coached the talented Boston Celtics, has taken over as the head coach. While Udoka only has one year of head coaching experience, Rockets fans are hopeful that he will bring his defensive expertise to a team that struggled defensively, ranking 29th in the league last year. Udoka’s Celtics team from the previous season led the league in defense across various categories and made it to the NBA Finals, where they were ultimately defeated by a resurgent Golden State Warriors squad.

The Rockets have also made significant changes to their roster with several key free agent signings. With the departure of Russell Westbrook and John Wall, the team had the financial flexibility to bring in talented players like Fred VanVleet, Dillon Brooks, and Jeff Green. Out of the top five highest-paid players on the team this season, four were not part of the roster last year. VanVleet’s role is to provide stability to the offense, something that his predecessor, Kevin Porter Jr., struggled with. Porter Jr. was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder and subsequently released due to a domestic assault charge. Brooks may have received criticism for trash-talking LeBron James during the playoffs, but his strong defensive mentality is exactly what the Rockets need. While veterans Patrick Beverley and P.J. Tucker are no longer on the team, Rockets fans are eager to support another hard-working perimeter defender. Green, in his second stint with Houston, is expected to contribute in various roles and provide valuable veteran leadership. The addition of Jock Landale also gives the Rockets a taller player to match up against the bigger centers in the NBA.

With these changes, there are several storylines that will shape the Rockets’ upcoming season. Here are a few questions that we’ll be pondering:

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Now that the preseason is over, let’s talk about tonight’s opponent. The Orlando Magic surprised everyone by selecting Paolo Banchero at the top of the 2022 NBA Draft, and he went on to win the Rookie of the Year award. The Magic improved from 22 wins to 34 wins and have their sights set on a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They have a roster filled with young players looking to make a name for themselves, along with veteran presence from Gary Harris and Joe Ingles. In many ways, their roster makeup is similar to that of the Rockets. They also drafted Anthony Black as the sixth pick in the draft, and it will be intriguing to see how he fits into their rotation. The Magic have promising big men in Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero, and Wendell Carter Jr., and will heavily feature players like Ingles, Jonathan Isaac, and Moritz Wagner (Franz’s older brother).

Of course, we would love to see the Rockets start the season with an upset win. It has been six years since Houston won their season opener, with their last victory coming in 2017 when Kevin Durant’s game-winning shot was waived off after the buzzer in a game against the Golden State Warriors. The oddsmakers don’t believe the Rockets will break that streak tonight.


6pm CT

How to Watch

Space City Home Network



Tari Eason – OUT

Victor Oladipo – OUT



Looking ahead because we can

Friday at San Antonio Spurs


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