Prior to Wednesday's contest versus the Minnesota Timberwolves, Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni dropped a not-so-vague hint that Capela could be back when the team opens the post-All-Star break versus the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 21. In fact, D'Antoni called the game versus Minnesota as their final outing “before Clint gets back.”
D'Antoni referred to tonight's game as the last "before Clint comes back." Capela expected to practice in LA next week to determine if he'll play against the Lakers next Thursday.
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) February 13, 2019
Clint Capela last appeared on Jan. 13 before having to undergo surgery on his right thumb, which was expected to keep him out from anywhere from 4-6 weeks. At exactly the one-month mark Wednesday, Capela appears as if he'll need just one more week — with some practices sprinkled in — to make his return.
To say that it has been all hands on deck for Houston in his absence would be an understatement. James Harden has taken his scoring barrage to superhero-type levels, while the team went out and acquired Kenneth Faried to patrol the paint. Moreover, there have been many occasions where they have found themselves with the 6'6″ P.J. Tucker playing the de facto center position.
In Capela, the Rockets will get back their defensive anchor and pick-and-roll savant. Through his first 42 games, he is on pace to set new career highs in points (17.6) and rebounds (12.6). The Swizz big man is also shooting 63.1 percent from the field overall, which ranks third in the league. His 1.83 blocks per contest rank ninth.
Entering play Wednesday, the Rockets have gone 9-5 in Capela's absence, more than holding their own. With Chris Paul also back in the fold, it appears Houston could open the second half at full health for the first time in a long while.