The Houston Rockets allowed the OKC series to be knotted at two games apiece and now things are starting to shift. It’s time for them to make a statement.
After taking what seemed to be a commanding 2-0 series lead, the Houston Rockets have suddenly reverted back to old ways and have gotten themselves in a series. With legacies on the line, the Houston Rockets face the biggest test of their lives.
Let’s be honest here. When the playoffs got started and the seedings were made, we expected a tough series between the Houston Rockets and the Thunder. The only issue was whether the Houston Rockets could hang with Oklahoma City without Russell Westbrook, who is currently resting with a quad injury. We were hoping it would be for a few games, but a few games have turned into four.
After two games, we seemed to be content with the idea that the Houston Rockets should rest Westbrook for the remainder of the series because we flat out dominated Oklahoma City without Westbrook. We were hitting our shots and taking advantage of OKC miscues.
But the biggest reason why we were successful was our defense. You don’t see a Houston Rockets team like the one we have allowed 103 points per game in the first two games to a talented Thunder team. It’s not to be expected, but it paid off and the team managed to win the first two games.
All of a sudden, the national media senses the Houston Rockets are a big threat and could be a scary team, especially when Westbrook comes back. Oh my gosh! This could be the break the Houston Rockets need. Let’s finish off OKC and try to get rest and prepare for the next round of the playoffs. This team is supposed to be on a mission.
Well, somewhere between Thursday and Saturday, the flip got switched and suddenly, the Houston Rockets have reverted back to old ways. The defense wasn’t as strong in Game 3 as it had been in the previous games and Houston had a chance to close it out only for a controversial call to affect the game to which it went into overtime. From there, the Thunder took advantage and were able to win to get back in the series. No problem, let’s move on to Game 4.
The score is tied at 60 at halftime when suddenly, the Houston Rockets catch fire. Eight straight three-pointers have them up by double-digits and the Rockets are in the driver’s seat. All they need was the play like this for the remainder of the game and a 3-1 lead, while not a hammerlock, is a good sign for a team determined to right wrongs in the past.
Then, the Rockets of the past five years came back and suddenly, shots weren’t going down. James Harden played like his old self. Committing turnovers, making careless mistakes, and the team still kept trying to hit shots even when they weren’t going in. This allowed Oklahoma City back into the game and all of a sudden, it’s tied at two games apiece.
Now we have a problem.
As a Rockets fan, I’m sick and tired of hearing all the naysayers keep referring to our playoff misfortunes. The hate for the team, while at times unfair, is definitely showing and right now, those haters are enjoying every minute of it right now.
They know and they expect the same story to happen. The Rockets find ways to lose. James Harden gets called a choke artist yet again. Mike D’Antoni could be finding himself facing criticisms again. All this because a big reason why is that Russell Westbrook isn’t even on the court to face his old team.
At some point, the ball has to be dropped and someone has to say enough is enough. We can’t win without Westbrook and right now, we need the guy to play. If his quad is at 100 percent or close to it, play the guy. He has to suit up.
We brought him to Houston to help us win a championship. It didn’t work with Dwight Howard. It
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didn’t work with Chris Paul. Third time is the charm, right? We need Westbrook back in the lineup right now. He brings the energy to the team and he can ignite the guys to play better. Doing so on the bench as an extra coach is one thing. But doing so on the court can be better.
This is a crossroads for the Rockets. They’ve been put in so many situations like this in the past and for whatever reason, it hasn’t correlated to success. This is supposed to be our best chance of winning it all and yet, we’re playing down to the skeptics. If for some reason, we do lose this series, something needs to change. I don’t know what it would take, but somehow, you cannot get many chances to win it all and still come up short.
I am still confident the Rockets at some point will win another title. Yet, right now, my faith in this team is being tested because when you have a chance to make a statement and don’t do so, it becomes expected that they will lose. Somebody has to put their foot down and say this can no longer happen.
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All of us shouldn’t be happy with how the team has played and all of us should expect them to come out with urgency. Yet, it’s going to take more than just doing what our strengths are.
So Rockets, it’s time to step up and either say you’re sick and tired of playing back to old habits and try to win two of the next three games or let the same narrative influence y’all to where we might be waiting another twenty-something years for titles.