I have nothing against the Houston Rockets. I’ve enjoyed the past couple years when they’ve been good. James Harden is an incredible scorer and they have the potential to create difficult matchups and suffocate opposing teams into submission. When they’re good. This year, they’re trash. Which means all the things that once made them fun now make them insufferable.
Harden is still a great iso scorer capable of dazzling plays. It just doesn’t happen often enough to counteract his insistence of wearing down the shot clock jab stepping and dribbling to nowhere. In a must-win game against the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday, the final three minutes featured Harden clanking two deep threes, kicking out to Trevor Ariza for a contested long two, and a drive where he was stripped by Dirk Freaking Nowitzki. It looked even more awful in person. (That should be the 2015-16 Rockets motto, by the way.) Last night was more of the same, featuring this sequence:
And now Dwight commits a foul 30 feet from the basket w/ 5 on the shot clock. Just brilliant.
— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) April 8, 2016
All while giving up 124 points to the Phoenix Suns, who are less of a basketball team and more of a traveling circus that vaguely incorporates hoops and uniforms. It appears that Houston is looking to join them.
Another glaring factor is Harden’s defense, which kicked up to respectable last year only to fall all the way back into embarrassing Vine terrority this year. This chilling lack of effort seems to trickle down the rest of the roster, opening up the court for even the worst of teams to be competitive.
Dwight Howard is practically a non-factor at this point. Largely uninvolved in the offense and being left off the court late in games for the likes of Clint Capela and the great Michael Beasley, it feels like Howard and the Rockets are mutually sick of each other. Do you see a pattern emerging here with Howard?
Besides these two and perpetually fascinating Beasley, who else on this team do you actually care about? Patrick Beverly is a firecracker but he too often gets lost in the Houston muck. Ariza, Corey Brewer and Jason Terry are meh. K.J. McDaniels has interesting hair, I guess? Nobody looks happy. B.J. Bickerstaff is trying to lead a team that got the last coach fired eleven games into the season. There’s not a lot of trust between anyone in the entire organization. It’s just sad.
Point is, they’re not what they once were, and there’s no reason to throw them on the train tracks in front of the Golden State Warriors’ or San Antonio Spurs’ locomotives. The playoffs shouldn’t be a tragedy.
I think everyone be happier seeing the Utah Jazz, with the reunited Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack, Rudy Gobert, and Quin Snyder’s bug eyes taking on whoever.
Or Dirk Nowitzki inexplicably leading the Dallas Mavericks on a playoff run once again despite being 68 years old and each leg running at half capacity.
Even the Memphis Grizzlies stumbling into the postseason with approximately 7.5 players is more interesting than everything that’s happening in Houston right now.
It’s up to those three teams to keep the Rockets quarantined from the NBA Playoffs, and it looks like it’ll happen. But you never know with Houston; they can ruin anything at any time. Associating with Bieber might give them some mojo somehow, anything’s possible. So please, you guys, stay vigilant, and do your part to keep these clowns out of the playoffs.