While the Houston Rockets await the return of veteran guard Chris Paul from injury, it’s Clint Capela’s recent setback which may be leaving an even bigger mark. The 24-year-old center hit the ground running to start the 2018-19 NBA season, but a torn ligament in his thumb leaves Capela on the shelf for an extended period. And on Friday night, the Rockets’ shorthanded roster draws a big test against the Toronto Raptors.
With Capela and Paul sidelined, James Harden has been superb. While Capela’s injury occurred on January 13, Harden has excelled throughout the entire month, averaging 45.3 points, 8.9 rebounds and 7.9 assists through 11 games. In the five games without Houston’s starting center, those numbers have jumped to 52.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.
A date with the Raptors and a fully-rested Kawhi Leonard will be a big test for the Rockets and Harden. We’re going to take a look at their expected roster and starting lineup against one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference while evaluating an update on Clint Capela’s potential timeline.
Rockets Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Raptors
|Center||Kenneth Faried||Nene Hilario|
|Power Forward||P.J. Tucker||Gary Clark||Marquese Chriss|
|Small Forward||Eric Gordon||James Ennis|
|Shooting Guard||Austin Rivers||Gerald Green|
|Point Guard||James Harden||Brandon Knight||Vincent Edwards|
Latest on Clint Capela’s Injury Timeline
While the team revealed Capela had undergone successful surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb, they also provided a timeline of four to six weeks for a potential return. Based on that timeline (which was revealed on Monday, January 14), the four-week mark falls just two games prior to the NBA All-Star break.
The Rockets would be wise to hold Capela out for those final two games, as it would provide an additional week off and put him into the five-week range for a return. In a recent breakdown of Capela’s injury by Dr. Rajpal Brar of 3cbPerfomance, he cites that erring “on the side of caution” with thumb injuries for basketball players is wise. In turn, he believes a six-week timeline is more realistic than four.
Even if Houston opted to keep Capela on the shelf for the full six weeks, it would only mean two additional games after the break before his return. The good news is that the All-Star break couldn’t have come at a better time, as it allows the Rockets center to miss fewer games which is a big deal in the crowded Western Conference.