Sunday afternoon games on ABC have begun. The Rockets have a few of these from now until the end of the regular season, and each one is a chance to show a wider NBA audience that they're for real.
And, right now, it's hard to have any other interpretation of this team. They're on a four-game winning streak. Their last two wins were without stellar performances from the MVP, but the team's overall depth, chemistry and balance is helping it close out balance.
This is the most cohesion any Houston team in the Kevin McHale era has ever had. Everyone is on the same page -- even Josh Smith has exchanged most of his long-twos for three-pointers -- and that more than anything else is likely why K.J. McDaniels is glued to the bench. There's just no room for him. McHale has said it before: he likes his 8- or 9-man rotation. Without an injury, the rotation will stay the same.
And that's just fine. Keep K.J. cheap for next year, win more this year. The bench has been mindblowingly productive and, for the first time since Chuck Hayes was subbing in for Yao Ming in the playoffs, the Rockets are a team that seems like more than a sum of its parts.
That will be tested against the NBA's hottest team, the Cavs. There's no Kyrie Irving, but LeBron has returned among the Harden-Brow-Curry-Westbrook as the best players in the league. A Rockets loss would not mean much, but a win sure would be nice.