The Rockets are coming off a good old-fashioned butt-whipping. The good guys stuck around for about 20 minutes in game 1. That's a nice silver lining, but an NBA game is 48 minutes.
Winning in Oklahoma City is a difficult task for any team. The Rockets are young and inexperienced. Game 1 was probably the loudest they have ever heard an arena. Those are the little things that playing in the postseason will give this team in terms of experience. I'm sure the players heard the same things we've been saying here all year:
"The playoffs are a different animal."
"The intensity of the playoffs makes the regular season look like a cricket match."
"There's no substitute for experience."
These are all messages the Rockets have been introduced to after Sunday's disappointment. The "baptism by fire" theme was spot-on, and the Rockets have to step up their game.
Will the Thunder shoot as well as they did on Sunday? Will the Rockets play as poorly on both sides of the ball as they did in game 1? Will Westbrook destroy Jeremy Lin again? Will James Harden play passively? Will Asik pick up three fouls faster than Taylor Swift drops boyfriends?
The answer is maybe. These aren't issues that can be fixed overnight, but you have to keep improving all the time and the coaching staff has to come up with temporary solutions to keep the Rockets relevant in these upcoming games.
We'll find out a little bit about the Rockets' character tonight. They don't have to win for me to think they've turned a corner, but it's important that they put Sunday behind them and move forward. This isn't about just tonight. It's about building for the future.
Game tip-off set for 6pm CST on TNT.