While possibly colored by recency bias, a majority of respondents replied to my very-scientific Twitter poll last night that from among the candidates, they least hoped to see the Utah Jazz as the Houston Rockets’ first round opponent come April.  Last night, with starters George Hill and Derrick Favors both sidelined, Utah disposed of the Rockets–themselves without Ryan Anderson–yet again, racing out to an early first quarter lead which proved to be the difference.  Houston battled back in the second half, outscoring the Jazz in the third quarter, and matching them in the fourth, but it was not enough.

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in game coverage

Defending the Houston Rockets – Part 1

I grabbed the above clip from the ringer.com as for some reason, NBA.com did not have this play in its game archive last night.  While the block by Kawhi Leonard at the end drew all the headlines, I thought this  possession was just as important primarily due to its long-term consequences.  The Rockets and Spurs are currently on a collision course to meet in the second round of the postseason where both coaches will have important decisions to make.  (As I tried to tweet this morning–impeded by the 140 character limit–games like that one are where you wake up the morning after feeling the most consolation that your coach is a legendary genius capable of recognizing adjustments.  It’s a new feeling in the Harden era).

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in essays

It’s a good thing the vote will not be held tomorrow.  The image of Kawhi Leonard burying a ‘3’ at one end, and then racing back to swallow up a James Harden shot attempt was a powerful one, further embodying an already pervasive narrative of the superiority of a two-way superstar.  Last night, Kawhi officially arrived in the MVP race, not just as a dark horse, but as a legitimate front-runner.

Today, I wanted to look at the on/off ratings of each of the main contenders for the award.  Its a relevant statistic because back in 2014-2015, when the case for Harden was made as doing more with less, the rejoinder provided in support of Steph Curry were his on/off numbers.  With Curry on the court, the Warriors had a net rating of +17.0.  When he sat, it fell to -0.1.  In essence, the evidence attacked the claim that the Warriors were better than the Rockets because of their superior supporting cast.

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in musings

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