The Rockets lost Game 6 to the Spurs in the worst loss of the season, 114-75. Kawhi Leonard was out for the Spurs, but San Antonio did not seem to care. They have now clinched a spot in the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors as the Rockets get to watch the series on the couch.
This was, without a doubt, the worst game the Rockets played all year, and there really is nothing to sugarcoat about this game. They shot a season-low percentage from the field (28.6 percent), had a team-low in points (75), and James Harden had a season-low 10 points.
There is a lot we can discuss about this game and Houston is going to get a lot of flak from the press about not showing up to Game 6 and losing to a Kawhi-less Spurs team, and for getting blown out at home. It is surely going to be a long offseason for the Houston Rockets.
However, the Rockets cannot expect to beat anybody by shooting 28.6 percent. The defense was also subpar; six Spurs scored in double figures including a game-high 36 points from LaMarcus Aldridge, who looked like 2014 Portland Aldridge that killed the Rockets.
A lot of blame on this loss can be put on Coach of the Year candidate Mike D’Antoni’s shoulders. His controversial seven-man rotation burned the Rockets in Game 5, and it looks like the Rockets could not recover from the Game 5 meltdown that occurred Tuesday night. The Rockets just looked tired tonight. They could not hit a shot and the Spurs struck while the iron was hot.
Houston native Jonathon Simmons looked electric in this series, especially tonight, scoring 18 points in his first playoff start. Patty Mills had 14 points in his second straight start, and he was able to set up the offense brilliantly. Even 36-year old Pau Gasol had a strong night, posting a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards.
It is very difficult to beat a Gregg Popovich team in a seven-game series, because he will make the adjustments necessary to win after every game. Aldridge looked terrible in Game 1, and he was virtually unstoppable in Game 6. He was able to revive 2005 Tony Parker into 2017 before his unfortunate injury. Even Manu Ginobili looked like himself in his prime in Game 5 at 39 years young. Rookie Dejounte Murray looked very solid throughout this series as well.
What most of these guys have in common is that they would not play in many other teams’ playoff rotations. Popovich is able to squeeze every last bit of potential out of these guys, and he is the main reason behind the Spurs’ eternal success.
It is a shame that the Rockets season ended on this note, because it clouds all of the success they had this season. Fifty-five wins is a total only two teams surpassed this season, the Spurs and Warriors. Harden had arguably one of the greatest offensive seasons in history, and the Rockets surpassed their expectations after a forgettable 2015-’16 campaign.
It may not feel like this now, but this Rockets season had a good amount of success. The primary goal of winning a championship was not reached, but this team took a step in the right direction this season. A loss like this will force them to re-evaluate, shuffle the deck, and come back next season with a vengeance.
It’s a weird feeling, but I’m pissed off and proud at the same time. I’m proud of this season and this team and I’m pissed off that it ended too soon.