Are you picturing Jim Mora? You might as well be. If you relied on this site for basketball info. you may not even be aware that the Houston Rockets are up 2-0 in the first round of the NBA playoffs against the rival OKC Thunder. During one of our best seasons in years, the boards have been relatively quiet and have now gone full ghost town.
Here, enjoy some music to help set the mood properly before we continue...
Our beloved Rockets (the same ones which fought their way to the 3rd best record in the league) (after being picked to be a first round bottom feeder) (better record than any team in the East) (the only team besides San Antonio that likely has Steve Kerr's attention) (a team that is so loaded it likely just cost Harden another MVP trophy) (Yes, those Rockets!) are looking good as we head towards a collision course with the Spurs, the Warriors, and then the Cavs.
If Houston and Co. can pull this off it should go down as one of the most epic playoff achievements ever. When it is all said and done, we will have dispatched the league MVP, the league's best coach and a MVP runner-up, one of the best teams ever assembled including two former MVP's plus the DPOY, and then this era's Michael Jordan and his defending champion Cavs. Yeesh.
James Harden is leading the charge, but, for once, he's not the only gunslinger in this shootout. Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each shot 8-14 (16-28 overall & 6-10 from deep) on top of 5-6 from the line for 43 points finishing with a +15 and +18 for the night, respectively. In a game we won by 4 points, that is huge. Nene's stats don't really show it, but he was big for us as well. D'Antoni did not go any further into our bench last night showing us who he trusts and who he doesn't when the chips are down.
Russell Westbrook was ridiculous last night; yet, if you watched closely you could see his achilles heel: his own greatness. Down the stretch, hero ball failed him and cost OKC the game. Westbrook scored 51 points, but he did it on 43 shot attempts (plus a bonus 18 free throws). He made a mere 17 of those 43 shots. With all of that, you could barely pry the ball out of his hands.
Funny enough, about the only other OKC player who is "allowed" to shoot is Victor Oladipo. Roberson got 12 shots off, but he hustles to get most of those for himself or cutting to the basket. Oladipo is killing them as much as Westbrook is.
Meanwhile, you've got a solid, reliable guy like Taj Gibson who could have come in and got you some buckets heading down the stretch to keep the Rockets at arm's length. A guy you intentionally went and got mid-season (along with an actual shooter in McDermott) to try and mitigate your horrible shooting problem. On top of that, you've got a very skilled Enes Kanter who knows how to work the post. Those guys combined to shoot 9-15 last night.
It doesn't matter. The Thunder are going to live, and die, on Westbrook's greatness. You can see the difference chemistry makes watching Houston play Oklahoma. For us Rockets fans, we can easily remember last season versus this one; however, in this case it is clearly us against them rather than me against them. Russ is playing me vs. the world right now and if I were on his team I would want out so very, very badly.
Back to the good guys. The Houston Rockets have the best back court in the league top to bottom. Harden, Beverley, Gordon, and Williams. Nothing comes close. There are certainly more formidable duos, but if you are looking at all 48 minutes of the game I like what Houston brings to the party.
As long as D'Antoni can keep these guys focused on playing team ball on both ends of the floor I really like our chances of getting to the WCF's. Golden State's defense frightens me more than their offense. If we play sloppy on offense they will crush us with ease. Also, it would be nice if Shaun Livingston didn't treat us like the JV team for once.
Let's get excited, everyone! The Houston Rockets just won a tough playoff game in which we were crushed on the glass, had nearly twice as many turnovers as our opponent, and we shot 1 less 3 pointer to boot. I figure OKC has one more punch left in them before they lie down. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's game 3.