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With all that past us, looking ahead to OKC

I’ve done some thinking in the last 15 or so hours since this morning’s post and I have some new thoughts.  But first, some housekeeping: some of you found my prior comments objectionable, intimating that my comments were misguided and that the team should only be addressed with pride.  While I respect differing opinions, I find this to be an invalid line of reasoning.

One can be a fan and feel pride for a team while still recognizing flaws and areas in need of improvement.  The two events aren’t mutually exclusive.  Just like a mother loves her young child unconditionally and views his development, his first words and first steps, as her life’s pride, so do I feel a sense of pride in this team’s success this season in overcoming adversity and coming together as the youngest roster in the league; but just as that mother feels disappointment and concern when the child errs, I too find alarm in spectacles like last night’s.  In neither event does the concern diminish the pride and it is because of the pride that the concern is born.

It was critical to face the Spurs not just for the reason that we stood a better chance, but because of the ramifications.  A competitive showing, or even a series victory (of course), would have raised public perception regarding the team.  As we know, perception is everything.  This would have been key in the summer during free agency.  The Rockets hope to sell themselves to some lucky superstar that with him in place, they would be ready to seriously contend.  If they’re blown out in 4 by the Thunder, that pitch won’t go too well.  And adding a superstar is the single greatest step for improvement that this team can make.

While perhaps not having the upside of convincing someone like a Howard or Paul to sign after a victory over San Antonio, there is a silver lining to facing the Thunder.  You see, aside from the fact that James Harden historically has had his way with the Spurs, he really doesn’t have anything personal at stake against them.  If the Rockets had lost such a series, and Harden had shot around 40%, one could speculate that it might not have been a big deal to him.  Nothing against Harden, but like 99% of other people, he’s not a guy that’s driven internally by basketball.  Basketball is not his life – it’s a part of his life.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and it’s the norm.  It just means that, like Lebron after that embarrassment against the Mavs, Harden needs some external nudge.

That’s not the case against the Thunder.  Against the Thunder, it’s personal.  These were his guys.  They were supposed to rule the league for the next 10 years.  But instead, management decided they preferred Ibaka and Westbrook with the money they had.  Even worse, after he was willing to give a discount, they wouldn’t even give him a trade kicker to extend trust.

If Harden loses at the hands of the Thunder, I think he’ll take it personally.  I think the humiliation would drive him.  Losing to the Thunder would seem, while not true, an affirmation that they didn’t need him.  (The only way that would prove to be the case would be if OKC went on to beat the Heat.)  If the Thunder go on and lose again to the Heat, that’s just a rendition of the default.  For Harden, the only way he can actually prove his old team made a mistake is by beating them himself.  If he loses, I think it will drive him.  I think you’d see the 23-year-old come back next year with a more lethal arsenal.  Perhaps a floater or a postgame or something for the midrange (likely to the chagrin of his bosses.)  Losing to the Thunder could do a world of good for James Harden.

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Total comments: 2
  • RollingWave says 1 YEAR ago

    Just play your hearts out Houston, and nobody gets hurt.

  • morningdew says 1 YEAR ago

    Playing at OKC always brings me back to last season, where I think we got at least an away and a home wins. The away game @ OKC wasmemorable particularly with everyone played almost their best game (CP, dragic, lee, and 2pat); chandler played stellar early on withmonstrousthrow-downs over Ibaka. But in 4th Q, Harden's pick and roll offense definitely shifted the momentum over (fortunately that wont happen again), and rox had no answer to it whatsoever, until Dragic stirred up Russ, who single-handedly hand back the game to us. The comeback was epic, full of hustle team plays. (no iso ball whatsoever) In the last play, Dragic penetrating, spinning and kicking out to corner Lee for the 3 pts winner... (I miss them both so much) Just a reminder, plus/minus harden make a huge swing to the chance for both teams, with more matured CP, and inside presence in Asik and Smith, we should stand a fighting chance even in their gym.

    This team win or die by harden for sure, but to steal a series from OKC, we surely need A+++ output from every other matchups as well.

    - Lin needs to play a pesty defense, ala Dragic, to get to the head of Russ, (making him automatically shoot half court 3s); we can not afford to easy blow-bys, cuz KD and Russ pick-and-roll is so deadly. To finishing around the rim becomes a daunting task, Lin needs to make the best option to either dish to our bigs, or seeking for contacts... the law of gravity could be defied for the regular arched shots...

    - Wish the good harden will show up. If he does not force things, I do not concern about his offensive output; But the key aspect for the win is whether harden can keep those 3s from Sefolosha and Martin in check.. a career series from any of these guy won't help our chance. We have been waiting for the entire season for adjustment from our top dog, hopefully he can turn a new leaf right at the beginning of the new season.

    - CP for the win! He needs to replicate this heroic game again in his first playoff game in front of national audience. It would be nice if he can shutoff the driving lane, and limit KD to just a jump shooter, and force more passes... the 40%+ 3 pts shooting is scary, and would rather have somebody else to take them... Quiet a tall task, but if CP can pour his offensive moves to KD, he has a better chance to close up this key matchup. Plus, chandler will have all the time in the world to recover during hisHawaiivacation!

    - Smith and TJones... needs to beaggressive, and attack ibaka early. In my wild dream, Greg will cause ibaka in foul trouble earlyto clear the driving lane for Rox penetration, cuz I thought ibaka is not such a great positional defender. And Tjones needs to compete for the shot-blocking title.

    - Asik... needs to really prepare and communicate with his passers; it is quite challenging for him to catch all the passes have been thrown to him, either from jLin, harden, or CP, are different in flavor: up in the air, toward the boards,straight to the chin, flat on the floor... mostly come during transition too! it takes a pretty hard guess to catch, and Asik's giant's hands obviously do not help. But his and Smith'sdominance in the paint candefinitelyreduce the load of forced hero ball, and earn more possessions from the sticky hands of our guards.

    -Coach Mac.... plz trust your game plan and starting lineup.. small ball actually might flourish in this matchup, except we need a Del3no with the right elbow.

    I have faith in our chances to nail 1 of the 2 games in OKC. Cant wait for the roller coaster ride of the new season. Go Rox!

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