Here we are again.
Although the Rockets came to their current situation in a vastly different way, the Rockets are playing a Game 6 on the road, down 3-2, just like they did last year.
The Clippers are far better than last year's Blazers, with a power forward somehow playing better than LaMarcus Aldridge did, a center creating thrice as much havoc as Robin Lopez did, and point guard who, while hobbled, is better in almost every way than Damian Lillard.
These aren't last year's Rockets either. Dwight Howard is still a beast and James Harden is playing much better than he did last year (even putting aside his Game 5 triple-double when he was under the weather), but the rest of the team is much more equipped -- theoretically -- for this situation. Jason Terry has been in this situation before and is a loud, veteran voice. Terrence Jones is playing better. Josh Smith and Corey Brewer, despite their struggles, are on the squad.
Sleepyhead Parsons is nowhere to be found.
Still, it's hard to shake the demons of the past. The Rockets again dropped their first game at home in this series, getting brutalized by an All-Star big man. James Harden has had a triple-double and a 40-point game in these playoffs, but has still left us wanting for more. Jones is a mess against Griffin. The role players' shots aren't falling consistently. The defense has sputtered. Kevin McHale has made adjustments, but they've been a game or two late.
The shadows of Game 6, Round 1, 2014 loom large over this Rockets team still, as do the basketball gods that have prevented Houston from reaching the conference finals since 1997. Some would say Harden and Daryl Morey have done everything in their power to offend those same gods, but if that's true, why would the basketball gods have created the three-pointer?
While we have gone on and on talking about playing with more energy, pick-and-roll defense, getting DeAndre Jordan in foul trouble and every other way the Rockets can crawl back in this series, you can ask James Harden about why the Rockets have had trouble in this series: the shots haven't been falling.
Tuesday night, the shots went in. They always do a little more at home, but if the shots go in tonight, simply put, the Rockets will force a Game 7 back in Houston on Sunday.