ALL STAR EDITION – I figure since we’re half way through I’ll do a little readjustment of the expected outcomes. After all, we’ve got a lot more information since the start of the season. I’ve made the following adjustments:
LA Lakers: No Chance -> Underdogs
Minnesota: Favourites -> Underdogs (not that it makes much difference now that we’ve played them 4 times)
Utah: Even -> Favourites
Denver: Underdogs -> Even
Portland: Underdogs -> Even
I’ve also added a last 5 games section so you can see how we were doing recently.
You heard it here first: Chase Budinger will win the Slam Dunk competition. I have a very good feeling about this.
Many have written in to suggest that he incorporate some stunt from his volleyball background. I personally don’t think that’s a good idea. Volleyball just doesn’t have the ‘coolness’ factor needed to win over a predominantly male crowd. Now I do like the direction they were going in the Rockets.com promo teaser, with Chase appearing to jump over a cutout of Yao Ming.
How funny the NBA can be. When the 2011-12 season began, Rockets’ fans were salivating for a famous superstar to call their own; grab their hand and lead them through this nonsensical season. Two months later, after Houston’s core roster was left unchanged from a team that failed to make the playoffs last season, those same fans find themselves applauding a complimentary group of cast-offs and fringe talent who’ve come together to play inspiring, playoff-worthy basketball.
In our current unprecedented time, a few familiar terms from the NBA’s lexicon have been altered. What exactly is a “contender” right now? Is it a team with Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul, or Derrick Rose? Or is it simply anyone that makes the postseason? According to John Hollinger’s most recent Power Rankings, the Rockets have played the 11th most difficult schedule in the league. Despite that, if the regular season ended today they would face the defending champion Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs.
Houston’s expectations have increased with their unanticipated play, but to what point? Are they capable of winning a series? Two? A championship?
Here’s a deeper look at how the Rockets have sustained their success, and whether or not they’ll be able to keep it up the rest of this season. (Also, a reflective look back to dole out a few mid-season awards.) [read more…]
This was easily the most candid Kevin McHale had been all year during a postgame presser. He spoke of crying after the first game of the year; of getting one hour of sleep after the Wolves game, re-watching it five times. He said he asked himself why he had taken the job; said the group had initially been hard to coach. After last week’s loss to the Wolves, a frustrated McHale met our questions with abrupt answers, wadding a paper at the end and hurling it across the room. Tonight was McHale, raw and uncut, pouring out from the heart moments after an emotional win in an unlikely season.
Here the Rockets sit, at 20-14, heading into the break, where no one thought they could be. They will likely make the playoffs. We heard the rumors. That he was brought in as a ‘puppet’, a ‘yes-man’ to buy time for Chris Finch. But Kevin McHale has done one of the best coaching jobs in the NBA this year, given the entirety of the circumstances. He won’t win the award or even come close, but he should at least be commended. He has his faults. (One can’t too readily forgive the three or so games which were sacrificed due to ‘Scola-at-the-5.’) But who can say he’d have this team where it is right now? You can’t give him less than an A.
I spoke to another writer after the game and we both agreed that it wouldn’t be a shock if this team won a playoff series. I never thought I’d think that. But here they are, getting it done with a guy the Grizzlies tried their best to give away, a guy on [essentially] a one-year deal, a second round rookie, and two guys they already traded. Remarkable.