So you’ve been chugging Cheez Doodles and Mountain Dew Code Red for a week and a half since the Rockets’ freefall from playoff contention changed from a reason to avoid Sportscenter for the night to a reason to avoid anyone who knows that you follow the Rockets closely so as not to endure the barrage of “How bout them Rockets?” comments. It’s OK; we understand and promise not to totally freak out because of the weird cheese dust encrusted on your hands. All is well because the NBA Playoffs have finally come to save us all from the doom of watching the Charlotte Bobcats lose anymore, and this tournament’s first round can be cleanly dissected into three groups:
SERIES ABOUT WHICH PEOPLE ACTUALLY CARE
Los Angeles Clippers versus Memphis Grizzlies: The only series in which I genuinely feel silly picking either team and acting as if I can support such a claim with certainty, this one might collapse into itself as the nexis of all NBA diehard viewership in the first round. Blake Griffin has recently shown himself to not only be the Boy Prince of Dunkitude, posting a couple of high-efficiency scoring outbursts in a pair of losses to the Hawks and Clippers; while a 36 or a 29-point-night might not seem like much, the variety of ways (face-up jumpers, step-throughs in the post) in which he scored the points finally made him appear to be a worthy second option to the wizardry Chris Paul’s largely left in his pocket until fourth quarters this year. But I’m pretty sure the rest of the world will quickly forget about the Clippers’ highly efficient, if sometimes unwatchable, offense (ranked fourth leaguewide) once it’s vaulted into the rusted, gaping maw of the Grizzlies’ D, one that seems almost naturally made for the rigors (read: laxer rule enforcement by officials) of the postseason. Just a year ago, this same Grizzlies team sans its best perimeter threat in Rudy Gay took it to another high-powered offense without a lot of muscle in the middle, but that Spurs squad didn’t have one of the league’s best players or a couple of benchwarmers in Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans who would love to get equally as violent as the Grizzlies’ boys. I like both of these two teams too much to want to see this one in the first round, but someone must win, and despite home court advantage, I’m inclined to give this one to the Clippers in six games. [read more…]
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The 2011-12 Houston Rockets season ended with a healthy mix of crashing and burning. They held the playoff key in their hands for most of the last month, but instead of using it for their own gain, they decided to neatly present it as a generous gift for the Utah Jazz. Super cool.
But the season wasn’t a total waste of time, just as no year before it ever is. Since Christmas we learned so much about this cast of characters—one of the league’s most eclectic collection of cultural backgrounds and differing personalities. When the season began, first year coach Kevin McHale was given a roster that featured a pouting, highly paid one dimensional player who’d eventually find himself in a mini-power struggle with the All-Star caliber point guard, and a wild pack of young, underachieving athletes trying to make Houston their place of self-resuscitation. Over half the roster had either been left for dead by a past employer or had yet to find their niche in the league. To make matters worse, all of them were too young to know the first thing about correcting a problem they didn’t know how to identify. It wasn’t a good situation, but as the year wore on they played less like a group of individuals trying to change a personal reputation, and more like a cohesive team that trusted one another, played unselfishly on every possession, and ended up being pretty good at winning basketball games.
For whatever reason, the wheels unhinged from the wagon three quarters of its way over the season’s rickety bridge, and everybody fell off the side. The playoffs just weren’t meant to be. Here are my individual awards for a memorable season. [read more…]
First, I want to apologize. My finals begin next week, thus the lack of activity on the front page. Having said that, we’ve had some riveting discussion in the forums, much of it pertaining to Dwight Howard. Join us.
I started a post last night with the intent of dissecting the ‘Scola at the 5’ lineups in comparison to the other frontcourt options the team had. NBA.com has production breakdowns of every lineup combination for every team’s roster so I was looking into Scola-Patterson. I got overwhelmed and gave up. There was just simply too much information available. Lazy of me, I know, but I didn’t feel like spending an hour dissecting that stuff. But it’s all out there, and statistically at least, the Rockets know if that lineup decision McHale made so often actually hurt the team. From a visual observation standpoint, at least, it seemed to me–and I would think the majority of you–that it killed them.