In the last two years, the Rockets have been eliminated from the playoffs by a team playing without their best player in the deciding game. The Warriors beat the Rockets without Steph Curry two years ago (though just about any team could have beaten that awful Rockets squad), and last year’s Game 6 debacle featured a Kawhi-less Spurs team.
The Knicks were missing both Kristaps Porzingis and Enes Kanter. As if on cue, the Rockets came out flat and timid. For all the talk that Chris Paul is the leader the Rockets needed and that his job was to prevent Game 6 from happening ever again, he failed at that job.
For a quarter.
Make no mistake: having a bad first quarter is not the sign of a bad team or a team that can’t contend. This is the NBA. There are no bad players in the NBA. All it takes is one guy going nuts to cause one team to have a bad quarter. Teams have bad quarters all the time. Not even the Warriors are immune.
The real disappointment was how the Rockets looked surprised that the Knicks even showed up. Michael Beasley was absolutely pissed off for some reason and wanted the Rockets to feel his wrath. Eventually, the Rockets showed some pride and stopped letting him get open layups.
It’s imperative for the Rockets to start every game with effort and energy. They can clearly recover from a 25-5 start against a decent team missing its two best scorers. But they cannot do it against the teams they are trying to surpass. Sometimes you can’t dig out of the hole. Sometimes that hole is on the scoreboard, but sometimes it’s just an energy level.
Anyway, let’s talk about the Brooklyn Nets for a bit. The Nets are 6-12 (and playing the Grizzlies as I type this), surprising a lot of folks who expected them to be terrible once again. With no draft pick to tank for, the Nets are absolutely playing for wins. They’re averaging 111 points per game, which is just a bucket behind Houston. However, their defense is coughing up 115 per night, which is...not great.
The Rockets will have the talent advantage, but the Nets are one of those “Too young to be intimidated” teams that can clearly score points at a solid clip.
Also, one of their former owners has a song that has the greatest remix ever so...
Tip-off is at 7pm CT