For the third time this season, the Houston Rockets will face off against the Portland Trail Blazers, this time in Houston. Somehow, both times these two teams met ended in overtime contests. The Rockets have yet to win in overtime against any team, and find themselves needing to get a win to pull the season series to 2-1 in Portland’s favor, and a chance to tie the series by season’s end. The Blazers sit just a single game behind the Rockets, waiting in the 9th seed to grab Houston’s playoff spot, making this contest a must-win for Houston.
Money Matters – ESPN Insider took a look at how superstars’ salaries compared to their WARP (wins above replacement player). Predictably, LeBron and Durant play at a level that is nearly double their contract value. The next six guys whose value rates as higher than their contract are:
Russell Westbrook ($25.5 million on-court value)
Chris Paul ($24.8 million on-court value)
James Harden ($22.6 million on-court value)
Stephen Curry ($21.5 million on-court value)
Blake Griffin ($20.7 million on-court value)
Tim Duncan ($20.3 million on-court value)
That’s another way of saying Harden is a top-five player. Long live the Beard.
Rivals – The fact that the Rockets passed on Kawhi Leonard to draft Marcus Morris will always be a sore subject for me. But the fact that Morey later picked Parsons in the same draft (almost) makes up for it. 5-on-5 debates Kawhi v. Chandler, and here’s one of the pro-Parsons takes:
Frankel: Parsons. He might be the most underrated dunker in the NBA this side of Alonzo Gee. Hopefully we can get a few “Chandler Bang!” calls on Friday night.
Still, the writers took Leonard in a 3-2 decision. Anyone else seeing parallels to Rocky here?
The Houston Rockets landed in Miami with the intention of taking off again. Following their historic shooting performance against the Warriors the previous night, Houston shot 58.8% on the night and kept pace with the East-best Heat, racking up 30 points in the first and 108 overall. James Harden went berserk late to close a gap, but the Heat just had too much firepower. Harden may have dropped a superstar line, but Miami got that from both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, proving too much for Houston to handle.
So far this season, the Rockets are 4-3 in games decided by five points or less. The fact that Houston has played only seven such games over a 50-game sample points to the great variance and variability in this young team’s performance. A 4-3 record doesn’t suggest that the Rockets are performing particularly poorly or exceptionally in close games. Nonetheless, I took a look at the available clutch statistics to see if I could find anything of interest, especially when compared with how the Rockets perform in general.