Normally, excuses are just words. I hate excuses. You are what you are, so shut up and live with it. Overcome problems and become stronger for it.
Unfortunately, these Rockets need help. I thought this team could win without their starting point guard and center, as well as their best shooter off the bench. Sure, they could beat an overachieving team like the Pacers and a team that couldn't make layups in the Knicks.But Brooks is out for at least another month and Yao is missing an extra week. Chase should be able to go on Friday, but who knows? All I can tell you is that it sucks. So, let's just wallow in our sorrows until the Rockets start winning. Then, we'll just pretend we believed in them the whole time. Ah, the joys of the bandwagon.
But the string of bad luck has caught up with the good guys. What's the biggest problem with the Rockets? Inconsistency. There are lots of big problems with this squad, but the inability to remain constant on both ends of the court. Great one quarter, abysmal the next.
Well, the road doesn't get easier. Oklahoma City is my second favorite NBA team, and they're pretty darn good, too. Last year, I wrote my love letter to them, so I'll spare you the mushy stuff. Suffice to say I love all the young players on this team, and I really love Scott Brooks. Any former Rocket who helped us win a title will always have a place in my heart.
Finally, I know we're supposed to hate the Thunder and all they stand for because they took the team from Seattle. I realize that this sentiment is waning since it's been awhile, but it's still there (Simmons calling them the "Zombie Sonics" doesn't help), but those are some of the best fans in the world. I actually received some emails last year from a couple of their fans after my gushing remarks about their team and fans in last year's OKC preview. I understand "Haters gotta hate," but we need to get over the whole "They stole the team," because the fans didn't steal anything. They earned those guys.
And good God! What does Jordan Hill have to do to get a little PT around here?
Keys to the Game:
Get in the bonus
FREE JORDAN HILL!!! (hopefully Adelman notices the boldface type)
On to the matchups...
The Rockets face their second straight Team USA point guard. Awesome. Westbrook is putting up some sick stats: 24/8/6/2. He has forcefully inserted himself into the "Best Young Point Guard" argument.
SG: Kevin Martin vs. Thabo Sefolosha:
Sefolosha is their stopper. Generally, these matchups go to the scorer, and this is no exception.
Speed Racer is our scorer, but he sure didn't play like it against the Bulls. Credit good defense, but Martin didn't shoot well when he had his chances. He'll get through it, but he needs to always be focused on getting to the line.
SF: Shane Battier vs. Kevin Durant:
Who is this small forward for the Thunder? The only thing I can find on him is "all-around badass."
PF: Luis Scola vs. Serge Ibaka:
Oh Luis, you deserve better right now. The Rockets are not playing with your consistency or energy. Again, the Rockets got 99 problems but Luis ain't one. (Hit me)
Ibaka lit up the Jazz to the tune of 22/11 on 9-13 shooting. How can you not like someone who went for a career high against the Jazzholes?
C: Brad Miller vs. Nenad Krstic:
Brad is playing really well. I thought when we got him that he would hold his own, maybe give us 10/7 or something like that when he starts. Well, he's doing that and more. His passing is better than I thought it would be, and he plays intelligently.
Krstic is the old fart in the rotation, at 27 years of age. That's when you know you're young: when your oldest contributor is 27.
Advantage: Definitely Thunder
Thunder: Jeff Green questionable
Rockets: Brooks out, Yao out, Budinger questionable
Prediction: I got us losing by 20
Yaseer: "You're gonna win. You heard it here first. And probably last. Luis Scola, watch out. Going to get 36 points."
Ben: "You're getting freaking owned. You'll lose by at least 10. Durant is gonna get 40."