What is at stake for the Houston Rockets?

We’re now just an hour away from tip-off of Game 1.  After tonight, our expectations and perceptions will be polluted by the emotions of whatever is about to take place.  Thus, it’s important now to reflect with clear minds.

What’s at stake and what do we hope to see?

To begin, only one, maybe two individuals involved with the Houston Rockets organization have anything at stake in this series.  The team, in even making the playoffs this year, overachieved beyond anyone’s wildest expectations.  Even if they lose 4-0 by an average of 20 points per game, perception will not change.  They are on the rise and ahead of schedule.  Daryl Morey, regardless of the outcome, should unanimously claim Executive of the Year honors for his job in assembling this team.  While he won’t win the award, Kevin McHale should at least be mentioned in the discussion for Coach of the Year for the job he did in getting this young group to buy into the system and come together.

Greg Smith, Terrence Jones, and Donatas Motiejunas have nothing at stake.  No one is expecting any of the three to provide anything.  Patrick Beverley also has nothing at stake – because he played such a huge role on this team, we quickly forget that he too is a rookie.  Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik, and Carlos Delfino also have nothing at stake.  No one will think any less of them if they lay eggs.

While it shouldn’t be the case, there’s a chance the perception of Lin could change after this series.  Recall that this is really the first time he’ll be back on the national scene after leaving New York and the spotlight of Linsanity.  Many [bitter New Yorkers] felt that he was not worth the contract he signed – he’ll certainly be under the microscope.  If Lin is completely outclassed by Russell Westbrook, those critics will feel justified in their stance.

James Harden is really the only Rocket who without a doubt has something on the line.  Did the Thunder make a mistake?  So far, they haven’t missed a beat but that question will only be answered in the postseason.  If he can even put a scare into Oklahoma City, he will cement himself as one of the game’s best players.  (ESPN ranked him 7th in the league, behind Westbrook.)

What are we looking for?  I’m not quite sure some realize just how greatly the odds are against this Rockets team.  In the sole win against the Thunder, the Rockets needed everything to go right, overcoming a 12 point deficit in the second half of the 4th quarter just to eke out a 3 point win.  Those aren’t circumstances with high odds for duplication.  In the two losses, the Rockets were blown out.

There’s really nothing I’m looking for.  I won’t even be upset if the team runs ISOball if there’s a close game – that adjustment can only come after a full training camp.  All I hope is that they learn from this experience.  I hope that Parsons and Lin, and the rookie forwards too, learn what it takes to compete in the playoffs.  I hope Harden sees how much he needs to improve now that he is the focal point of his team.  And I hope McHale learns what does and doesn’t work about our system and scheme.  We won’t know if any of these desires come to fruition until next season.  For now, we can just sit back and enjoy.

 

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Total comments: 30
  • Drew in Abilene says 11 months ago

    In a similar vein as some of y'all, I think that before Westbrook's injury, the main things at stake for the Rockets were to compete hard enough to show big name free agents what we could be in a few years and to have our players' weaknesses exposed. I wanted all of our guys to be acutely aware of and maybe even embarrassed by the holes in their game, in order to spur them on to correct those deficiencies in the off-season.

    Post-meniscus, I want more. I think what's at stake now is a chance to make it into a second round series against a formidable but beatable team, be it the Clippers or the Grizzlies. What would it mean to the team to get past OKC in this round? Not as much, due to the injury to Westbrook. But what would it mean if we outlasted an angry Durant, then somehow upset Los Angeles or Memphis? The value of that experience for our young guys combined with the raised profile of our team for free agents tantalizes me.

    Is that a long shot? Of course. But that doesn't mean it's impossible.

  • feelingsupersonic says 11 months ago So a few days on from some of your comments has anyone changed their mind on the power forwards? Thoughts on what is at stake for Lin? McHale? Are free agents really looking at the Rockets and thinking this is not a team with potential?

    How many of you overreacted to Game 1? Or even before this series how many of you thought the Rockets could actually win this series?
  • thejohnnygold says 12 months ago

    It's true. As fans we have a different perspective from the players. They know and interact with one another first hand--if anyone is capable of discerning who is good and who is not in this league it is the players themselves. This playoff series has more to do with OKC than us. They are supposed to dominate us. No one expects much different. I think players view Houston as an attractive team moving forward regardless of how bad OKC makes us look.

    It all goes back to Harden. If this season is his ceiling and he can't expand his game beyond streaky shooting and hoping for foul calls while playing bad defense then we are screwed. I think most of us doubt that is the case so we should be fine.

  • feelingsupersonic says 12 months ago Check all the minute increases basketball-reference Ostrow and its staggering the increase in NBA starter minutes for all the Rockets across the board. I have posted them for the rotation players a handful of times and for me it really puts this year into perspective and begs one to appreciate the job Morey and McHale are doing together.
  • Ostrow says 12 months ago

    The thing is, of all the guys we are targeting, we are already better than the teams they are on (except CP3 and there is <5% of him). I don't think losing in the first round to OKC would be a detriment to anyone. 1, the team is REALLY young. They have played 1 year together (with the exception of PF) so they have plenty of room to grow. If you look at our team by position w/ guys who are going to definely going to be here next year it is ridiculous. PG: 2 rookies. We forget this, but this is Lin's first full year. Beverly has played 41 games. SG: Harden is 23 (4th year, 1st as a starter). SF: Parsons is 24 and in his 2nd year. PF: 4 rookies. C: Asik is in his first year playing significant minutes. He played more minutes this year than his previous 2 years combined.

    I only write these out to show how much room our guys have to grow. I think most agents (I won't say players) are smart enough to see this and inform their clients about the situation we have in Hou. No one else with cap room has 1/3 as much going for them as we do except Cleveland. And it's Cleveland....

  • Rahat Huq says 12 months ago

    It seems to me that there is a lot more at stake than most are thinking about if Houston continues to play like they did last night. Future free agents looking at us as a desirable destination won't come to a 'no potential' situation. So, I think that a lot is at stake here... Now, the good news... We only lost one game last night, and it does not matter by how many points. How we respond to this blowout is highly important. The coaches can't go out and play the game, so our players have to step up as Patrick Bev did last nite. If Lin can't show considerable improvement next game, his future in Houston might become a real issue... don't care how much they like him, if he can't produce there are others who can.

    I was thinking about this last night too, Bob. The hope going into the playoffs was that the team would look good enough to where a free agent would see them and think "everything there is in place. With me, they can compete for a title." The Rockets looked far from that last night and pretty much looked like a train-wreck.

  • thejohnnygold says 12 months ago

    I think Bledsoe winds up in Atlanta with Bynum :o

    Back to topic, after reading harden's post-game comments I think a sound drubbing is in order. If Harden walks away from this series without eating an appropriate amount of humble pie then I feel a large part of the opportunity and experience will have been wasted.

  • thenit says 12 months ago

    Not sure why this is posted in this topic but I really like Bledsoe and might be worth taking a chance on.

    This topic is about what is at stake with this series and to add to what I wrote above I just don't believe there is any pressure hopefully they are in a couple games and they pull one out. Chances are we get one at home after we get beat down again in game 2.

    I like him too, but I think he would like to be guaranteed a starting spot and command 10+ a year.

  • feelingsupersonic says 12 months ago

    Not sure why this is posted in this topic but I really like Bledsoe and might be worth taking a chance on.

    Arrgghhh, looks like CP3 is pretty certain to reup in LA.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nba-ball-dont-lie/chris-paul-enjoying-playing-eric-bledsoe-now-because-204831453--nba.html

    This topic is about what is at stake with this series and to add to what I wrote above I just don't believe there is any pressure hopefully they are in a couple games and they pull one out. Chances are we get one at home after we get beat down again in game 2.

  • cjuice28 says 12 months ago

    Arrgghhh, looks like CP3 is pretty certain to reup in LA.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nba-ball-dont-lie/chris-paul-enjoying-playing-eric-bledsoe-now-because-204831453--nba.html

  • feelingsupersonic says 12 months ago I agree Rahat that there is not really much at stake right now. What is much more important will be what the front office does in the off season, the coaching staff do in the off season and next season and how the players improve after this playoff experience. We really won't be able to assess the reactions and improvements till next season gets going.
  • bob schmidt says 12 months ago

    It seems to me that there is a lot more at stake than most are thinking about if Houston continues to play like they did last night. Future free agents looking at us as a desirable destination won't come to a 'no potential' situation. So, I think that a lot is at stake here... Now, the good news... We only lost one game last night, and it does not matter by how many points. How we respond to this blowout is highly important. The coaches can't go out and play the game, so our players have to step up as Patrick Bev did last nite. If Lin can't show considerable improvement next game, his future in Houston might become a real issue... don't care how much they like him, if he can't produce there are others who can.

  • bboley24 says 12 months ago

    15th

  • Jason says 12 months ago

    I heard that the revenue has has brought to the organization is crazy, like eye-popping numbers, and I guess you can say that could help us in the future if the time comes where we have to pay luxury tax and don't want to break up the team. The more revenue the owner makes, the more he's willing to spend on luxury tax.

    In terms of how much he impacts games though, who knows? At the beginning of the season I would have said no way, but he has improved so much that it's hard to not root for this guy. I think we will know for sure next season if he's the guy or not, but if you forced me to make an educated guess right now I would say I'm pretty optimistic, I think he will become good enough for us to win a championship with as our 3rd or 4th best player. And when I say 3rd or 4th best player that's not a knock on Lin, that's just how good his team mates are.


    I like him, but where would you rank him right now among NBA PGs?
  • 2016Champions says 12 months ago

    I heard that the revenue has has brought to the organization is crazy, like eye-popping numbers, and I guess you can say that could help us in the future if the time comes where we have to pay luxury tax and don't want to break up the team. The more revenue the owner makes, the more he's willing to spend on luxury tax.

    In terms of how much he impacts games though, who knows? At the beginning of the season I would have said no way, but he has improved so much that it's hard to not root for this guy. I think we will know for sure next season if he's the guy or not, but if you forced me to make an educated guess right now I would say I'm pretty optimistic, I think he will become good enough for us to win a championship with as our 3rd or 4th best player. And when I say 3rd or 4th best player that's not a knock on Lin, that's just how good his team mates are.

  • Jason says 12 months ago

    I hope Lin is the answer because I've heard that the owner LOVES Lin, we're pretty much stuck with him.


    Of course he does, cause he's a great guy and a great teammate. He's like the Tebow of basketball. He is also very marketable and draws fans. What owner wouldnt want that? But does that mean he's the right PG for us as a team trying to win a title?
  • 2016Champions says 12 months ago

    I hope Lin is the answer because I've heard that the owner LOVES Lin, we're pretty much stuck with him.

  • Jason says 12 months ago I'm starting to think that Lin is not the long-term answer at PG also
  • Jason says 12 months ago

    It's pretty sad lol

    We need to upgrade, no question. But if we do, I want the PF to be someone who can shoot well.


    Agreed
  • 2016Champions says 12 months ago

    It's pretty sad lol

    We need to upgrade, no question. But if we do, I want the PF to be someone who can shoot well.

  • Jason says 12 months ago

    We did really well with Delfino at the 4 tonight, I hope to see more of that whenever Ibaka is on the floor because we need to take him away from the rim. Whenever Greg Smith was on the floor, Ibaka was there to block the shot everytime anyone got to the rim and that's just not cool Congo man.


    That just proves my point and shows how much our power forwards stink! Carlos Delfino at 6'6" is our Most effective PF. How sad is that???
  • 2016Champions says 12 months ago

    We did really well with Delfino at the 4 tonight, I hope to see more of that whenever Ibaka is on the floor because we need to take him away from the rim. Whenever Greg Smith was onthe floor, Ibaka was there to block the shot everytime anyone got to the rim and that's just not cool Congo man.

  • Jason says 12 months ago Am I the only one here that has seen enough out of All of our power forwards to realize that None of them are very good? I seriously do not see how people think they are all so talented. Talented from a basketball sense, yes. Talented from the league know as the NBA sense, no. They are serviceable at best and are all projects.
  • Rahat Huq says 12 months ago

    Again I disagree.

    There are 4 young PFs on the roster. That's way too many. One may carve out a role as a back-up C,but if they collectively play poorly enough that the Rockets bring in a PF,somebody's leaving town.

    There's a big difference being a young rotation player on a Play-Off team and being exiled to Charlotte.

    And if the Rockets do bring in a starting PF,that shrinks the minutes and someone is going to get banished to deep bench,or become a D-league fixture. Not exactly career enhancing,and definitely a limiter to their next contract.

    good point, i see what you mean.

  • Jason says 12 months ago .
  • Stephen says 12 months ago

    Again I disagree.

    There are 4 young PFs on the roster. That's way too many. One may carve out a role as a back-up C,but if they collectively play poorly enough that the Rockets bring in a PF,somebody's leaving town.

    There's a big difference being a young rotation player on a Play-Off team and being exiled to Charlotte.

    And if the Rockets do bring in a starting PF,that shrinks the minutes and someone is going to get banished to deep bench,or become a D-league fixture. Not exactly career enhancing,and definitely a limiter to their next contract.

  • Rahat Huq says 12 months ago

    Respectfully disagree on Smith,Jones and D-Mo.

    Their play in the Play-Offs goes a long way towards determining if the Rockets feel they have to upgrade the PF this off-season.

    Definitely agreed - but I think that's just house money. i.e. those guys have nothing at stake....they won't get traded or cut or be thought less of just because they played poorly. everyone's expecting it. if any of them plays well, its an unexpected surprise with the product being a reevaluation of offseason needs. but nothing is on the line for them individually.

  • Steven says 12 months ago Sam Presti's job is on the line. After the Rockets win in 6 because of Harden, he will be on the unemployment line for shipping out his second best player for pig slop.
  • 2016Champions says 12 months ago

    Kevin McHale's job might be at stake if we don't play small ball and take advantage of Ibaka's weak spot-up defense.

  • Stephen says 12 months ago

    Respectfully disagree on Smith,Jones and D-Mo.

    Their play in the Play-Offs goes a long way towards determining if the Rockets feel they have to upgrade the PF this off-season.