Do the Rockets Have a Puncher's Chance?
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Am I the only one that thinks the Houston Rockets have a puncher's chance to push the Golden State Warriors to 6 or even 7 games? Most to all basketball experts and fans have the Warriors sweeping the Rockets with ease. I don't blame them, I mean Houston did moonwalk into the playoffs thanks to the Utah Jazz coughing up that playoff spot. (Kobe Bryant sends his thanks to the Jazz as well.) The Rockets have been the model of inconsistency this season. Getting off to a slow start, and putting the blame on Kevin Mchale by firing him.Their stars, James Harden and Dwight Howard have been rumored to have issues with each other.The signing of Ty Lawson didn't work out because there was only one person on that team that was going to do all the dribbling (cough cough Harden).Their whole offensive system of shooting only three pointers and lay-ups is flawed thanks to Daryl Morey and his analytics philosophy. It got so bad this year that the Rockets had to sign exiled underachiever, Michael Beasley, who surprisingly has been playing incredible since he came back from China. Props to you Mr. Beasley for finally realizing his potential.
Those are a few problems the Rockets have faced, and oh yeah, they have to play the defending champions, the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs, who happened to win 73 games this season, an NBA record. Houston, we have a problem, a big problem.
I am starting to rethink this whole puncher's chance. But I do really feel the Rockets can make this a competitive series or at least win one game. This team is talented if you look at their roster. They have two players at each position and have playoff experience too. Houston has players that have been to the NBA Finals. Any team that has James Harden and Dwight Howard should automatically have a chance in a playoff series.The Rockets also have a lot of pride and they are hearing all the noise from outside. Many will say Golden State beat Houston last season in the Western Conference Finals 4-1 and the Rockets are not as good as last year, while Warriors are way better, so it should be a sweep. This is true, but a couple things are different. Patrick Beverley and Donatas Motiejunas are healthy. These two players will be very important. Pat Bev will be called upon to guard the reigning and this year's MVP, Steph Curry. Beverly will be a pest in Curry’s side and will try his best to get Mr. MVP out of his game. It is almost guaranteed Pat will be picking up Curry full court to make him work hard on offense. Motiejunas will be another important factor in that, he spreads the floor and he can shoot from deep. If the Warriors go to their famous small line up, Donatas can be inserted at the center position.
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The addition of Michael Beasley and more playing time for K.J. Mcdaniels has given this Rockets team versatility on offense and defense. Like I mentioned before Beasley has been amazing since coming back to the league. He’s more mature and gives them a scoring punch at the small or power forward position. He is a very tough matchup for most forwards. K.J. Mcdaniels has given the Rockets athleticism and defense at the wing position. It's no coincidence that Houston started winning more when he got more playing time.
Along with Trevor Ariza and Corey Brewer, K.J. Mcdaniels is versatile enough to guard up to Steph Curry when Pat Bev gets into foul trouble, and yes, Beverly will get fouls.
Clint Capela will also have a major role if Dwight Howard is in foul trouble or is struggling. Capela is a good rim protector, so if the Rockets play high on defense, they will need him to help. Also on the offensive end when James Harden throws those lob passes after he draws a crowd, Clinton will have to catch those and finish strong. Trevor Ariza, Jason Terry and Corey Brewer will have to be ready to catch and shoot on those three pointers. And Josh Smith, well, Smith will just have to contribute something positive. Maybe throw a couple lobs to Howard.
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At the end of the day, it will come down to what James Harden and Dwight Howard do. Harden can't over dribble like he did and does, because if you do that against the Warriors' defense, that's an automatic turnover and James is prone to turning the ball over. just take a look at last season's Western Conference Finals Game 5. He had a playoff record, 13 turnovers. He will have to pick his spots when to go one on one and when to move the ball. Harden has to focus on making his teammates better, especially Dwight Howard. Howard usually steps up in the playoffs and he needs to be huge. I don't think Andrew Bogut can guard Dwight one on one and Howard has to treat Bogut like BBQ Chicken. The problem is how many touches is he going to get?? The whole season it seems as if Dwight is working on his cardio, running up and down the court, not touching the ball unless it's a rebound or block. He only sets picks for the perimeter players and rolls but they hardly give him the ball. This falls on the Rocket's coach, J.B. Bickerstaff. He will have to draw some plays for Howard to get him in the right position to score or just get a touch of the ball. All a big man needs are touches and he'll run through a wall for you. When he doesn't, like Shaq once said " If you don't feed the big dog, he won't guard the house for you". If all goes well for Houston, I think they can make this playoff series against the Warriors competitive. The playoffs mark a new beginning, everybody is 0-0. Rockets have new life and can forget about their inconsistent season. But if they play like they did in the regular season, then Golden State will sweep them easily and more than likely this Houston Rocket team will be disbanded.