Paul McGuire argued the contrary on these very pages last week, smartly concluding, “[e]very sound businessman knows that it is pointless to throw good money after bad, and this season is already lost.”  And today, The Dream Shake concurred with that sentiment.  I can’t explain why, but I disagree.  Despite hours of self reflection (okay, maybe not hours), I realized I don’t really know why it is that I hope the team makes it into the playoffs.  My thinking is completely irrational.  As Paul and The Dream Shake outlined, missing the postseason directly benefits the team by virtue of acquiring the lottery pick asset.  And my reasoning isn’t born from the same “only losers lay down!” faux bravado espoused by many Rockets fans in the pre-Harden days when the club was wandering in the doldrums of mediocrity.  Horrifically, I think I might have just grown apathetic.  Maybe I’m just burnt out, or in the midst of a mid-life crisis.  I’m 31 now.  Well, I’ll be 31 in a few months.  I started this thing in 2009 and have written through a lot of ups and downs.  I somehow lived through the Chris Bosh Crisis.  I’ve been a Rockets fan since I was nine years old.  I don’t think I care about team building at the moment, as I type this.  I know none of this is smart.  I’m actually sick of team building.  I came into this year expecting to be able to come home from a long day of work and watch a contender.  I didn’t get that.  So now it’s back to the drawing board.  I’m left a little jaded knowing the outcome from all of this is just going to be another Marcus Morris or Patrick Patterson.  I’d rather just watch my team get stomped by the Warriors, if only because it’s the playoffs.

All of that being said, I do think there is intangible “semantic” value to making the playoffs, although of course I have no quantifiable evidence on that point.  I think if hoping to pursue a free agent, whether it be Kevin Durant, or even just someone lower-tier like Harrison Barnes, there is an abstract distinction between the lottery and “making the playoffs” which seemingly constructs perception, even if in reality, there is little practical difference.  Words mean everything in the derivation of narratives, and narratives mean everything when making a pitch.  Derrick Rose in reality wasn’t any better than had the voters not hated Lebron, but society perceived him differently the following year because he was “the MVP.”  I don’t know.  But at the time of writing, I hope the Rockets get in.






in musings

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Why not James Harden as the point guard?

The Rockets have featured lineups with James Harden as the point guard, in spurts, but I, and others, have scoffed at the suggestion of making a full-time positional change.  In a recent outing, with K.J. McDaniels covering the other team’s point man, and the Rockets surging with Harden at the ‘1’, I began to wonder, inquiring on Twitter, “why not?”

The two most obvious points against are that a) Harden would be completely incapable of guarding the other team’s point guard and b) having to bring the ball up would tire him out.  The obvious rebuttal to point ‘a’, as exhibited when Harden has played the spot situationally, is to have Ariza (or his successor) guard the point guard with Harden guarding the lesser of the two wings.  The rebuttal to point ‘b’, however, is particularly significant.

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in essays

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The Houston Rockets have won 38 games. And there have not been many of those wins where I switched off my TV happy with what I saw.

Today was different. In the best Houston Rockets victory since they shut down the San Antonio Spurs on Christmas, the Rockets just plain fought against the Oklahoma City Thunder. They really attacked the Thunder on defense, rebounded the ball, and came out with all the hustle and grit which we have missed from this team all season. And they stayed with the Thunder for most of the game before finally just locking their opponents down with a new lineup not seen all season.

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in game coverage

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If there is anything I have learned about the NBA after this Houston Rockets season, it is the importance of coaching.

I have long held that in the NBA, you will have about five or so coaches who actively harm their team and five or so coaches who really help their team. Every other coach is in a mire of mediocrity, and you can substitute one out for another without any major effects.

Well, either coaching is more important than that, or the Houston Rockets have one of the five coaches who harm their team. Tonight demonstrated that no matter what happens over the rest of this season, Coach J.B. Bickerstaff is utterly unqualified to coach the Rockets over the long term.

Someone who runs the rotations he ran tonight cannot be expected to be a head coach.

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in game coverage

Ball is Life: Time to shut it down?

As the most disappointing Houston Rockets since well, I don’t know, draws to a close, perhaps the worst part of this story is that the Rockets still have a good shot at making the playoffs.

After yesterday’s victory against Cleveland, ESPN gives the Rockets a 92.8 percent chance of making the playoffs and facing the Spurs juggernaut, while FiveThirtyEight gives them a 90 percent chance. The Dallas Mavericks appear to be the odd team out. While Houston and Dallas will play each other one more time, the Rockets currently have the tiebreaker and an easier schedule down the stretch.

But what will Houston even accomplish in the playoffs? They will be lucky to win one game against the Warriors or Spurs. You cannot claim that “playoff experience” is necessary for a team which just reached the Western Conference Finals last year, and so the question has to be asked:

Should the Rockets just shut it down, give up on this season, and complete this humiliation? Or should they keep trying, for whatever good it has done them this year?

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in columns

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