The Rockets are honoring their championship teams tonight at the Toyota Center. It's been 20 years since the Rockets hoisted their second consecutive Larry O'Brien Trophy.
So we're going to honor them today too. At the risk of being called out for living in the past, every matchup will just be a video of at least one player from those title runs.
I don't want to ignore the Nuggets, but I won't be talking about them much. They've been on a tear since the last time these teams met. After losing to Houston, Denver won their next four games, which included matchups against Golden State, Atlanta, and New Orleans. However, Melvin Hunt sat Lawson, Faried, and Gallinari in their matchup against Memphis, which the Nuggets lost. It's a nut punch to Houston, who needs any Memphis loss they can get and certainly wish that Hunt were resting those guys tonight against them.
Anyway, onto the 1993-95 Rockets. We'll start with highlights from Game 7 from the Finals against the Knicks.
Tip off is at 7pm CST.
Point Guard: Patrick Beverley vs. Ty Lawson
There's two candidates here: Kenny Smith and Sam Cassell. Smith works for TNT and screw those guys, so it's Mr. Big Balls Dance himself, Sam Cassell.
What I loved about Cassell was that he was totally unafraid of big moments. None of those moments were bigger than Game 3 against the Knicks in New York. The series was tied and the Rockets needed the win to get homecourt advantage back. Here's how it went down.
Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. Randy Foye
Vernon Maxwell or Clyde Drexler? People forget that Maxwell was known as a "Jordan Stopper." The Rockets liked their chances going into the 1993-94 season because they knew they had Maxwell ready for a potential Finals meeting with the Bulls. As it turned out, Jordan retired for the first time and Houston didn't need Mad Max's defense, but his offense was required.
As extraordinary as Hakeem's MVP season was, the lasting image from 1994 was Vernon Maxwell's pure joy after hitting the dagger to beat the Knicks in Game 7, which comes in around the 5:40 mark.
Small Forward: Trevor Ariza vs. Danilo Gallinari
Second-easiest decision of the five.
I walked around the house doing the Kiss of Death for like a month. I think I gave the Kiss to just about everything available: the walls, my bed, the dishes. Whatever. It was awesome.
Power Forward: Terrence Jones vs. Kenneth Faried
I think that Otis Thorpe doesn't get enough credit for his time in Houston. His ability to gobble up rebounds made him the perfect complement to Hakeem, who was able to move away from the basket and do work from 15+ feet away.
But this website has a mission. One that I agreed to honor and have no wish to disobey. Robert Horry was a monster. Videos of his clutch shots later in his career are readily available, but people forget just how much of an athletic freak he was when he first came into the league. He could defend any position too. The man belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Horry had some fantastic plays but none are available by themselves. So instead we'll watch highlights from Horry's best game from the 1995 Finals, with Bill Walton waxing poetic about the majesty that was Horry's game.
Advantage: Nuggets due to Jones Corollary
Center: Donatas Motiejunas vs. Jusuf Nurkic
There's no comment needed here.
Rockets: Propeller Plane, Josh Smith, Corey Brewer, Joey Dorsey
Nuggets: J.J. Hickson, Jameer Nelson, Will Barton, Joffrey
Baratheon Lauvergne, Erick Green
Prediction: Rockets have to win in front of the legends, right? Or did I just jinx it? Rockets lose 110-104.
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