NBA schedule release: Rockets and incoming stars VanVleet, Brooks to play 7 home games in the 1st 9

Rockets get just four nationally-televised games - three on NBA TV and an ESPN contest on Jan. 12, 2024.

ByMatt Guillermo KTRK logo
Thursday, August 17, 2023
New Rockets draftees land in Houston for introductions on Friday
Top draft picks Amen Thompson and Cam Whitmore were officially introduced to the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston Rockets still have a lot to prove in the upcoming third full season after James Harden's departure. But the team took on major changes in the offseason to the point that the 2023-2024 Rockets can safely separate their identity from the Harden era.

Head coach Ime Udoka gets a second chance at the NBA after leaving the Celtics in controversy. The Rockets, unlike other recent offseasons, were big spenders in free agency, bringing in veterans Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks to pair with promising youngsters Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr., Alperen Sengun, and new draftees Amen Thompson and Cam Whitmore.

With all of that in mind, the Rockets may be able to come out of the gates with momentum. In their schedule released on Thursday, the team will play seven straight home games after two on the road to start the season.

The video above is from June 2023, when the Rockets introduced Thompson and Whitmore.

The Rockets' season opener will be at the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, Oct. 25. They'll follow that with a return to Texas but in San Antonio against Victor Wembenyama and the Spurs on Friday, Oct. 27.

Udoka and company's home opener takes place two days later when the Rockets host the Golden State Warriors on Sunday, Oct. 29, with a 6 p.m. tip-off.

In addition, the NBA has scheduled four group-stage games for the Rockets as part of the brand new In-Season Tournament. Houston is in West Group B along with the New Orleans Pelicans, the Los Angeles Clippers, the defending champions, Denver Nuggets, and the Dallas Mavericks.

Houston's first of four group-stage games is on Friday, Nov. 10 against the Pelicans at Toyota Center. After the group stage, the tournament continues with the quarterfinals on Dec. 4-5. Then, the semifinal and the championship games would take place in Las Vegas on Dec. 7 and 9, respectively.

DraftKings Sportsbook is giving the Rockets the longest odds to win their group, not to mention the sixth-longest to earn the championship.

Elsewhere on the schedule, Houston has four nationally-televised games, but none during the coveted Christmas Day slate. The Rockets' matchups against Indiana on Dec. 26, Philadelphia on Jan. 15, 2024, and Dallas on April 7, 2024, will air on NBA TV. Their Jan. 12, 2024, road game against Detroit will air on ESPN.

Other schedule highlights include:

  • Nov. 12 vs. Denver: Defending NBA champs visit.
  • Dec. 11 vs. San Antonio: Victor Wembenyama's first pro game at Toyota Center.
  • Dec. 27 vs. Phoenix: First visit to Houston by new-look Suns, including Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal.
  • Dec. 29 vs. Philadelphia: Potential James Harden homecoming game.
  • Jan. 13, 2024 at Boston: Udoka's first game against former team.
  • Feb. 14, 2024 at Memphis: Last game before All-Star break.
  • April 9, 2024 vs. Orlando: Last home game of regular season.
  • April 14, 2024 at LA Clippers: Last game of regular season.

To hype up the schedule drop, the Rockets released a playful video featuring Jabari Smith Jr. and a conference room full of Clutch the Bear mascots during a humorous take of a phone conference. You can watch the clip below. For a readable list of every NBA team's schedule, view it here.