Like most Rockets fans over the past few days, I’ve been trying to figure out what games one through three means. I’m at a loss.
We know the Rockets can defend at an elite level, but without Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, they are not at the peak of their powers. We know the Rockets can shoot an elite level, but we also know that they basically never do in the playoffs. We know that James Harden and Chris Paul can have monster games in the playoffs, but we also know they can disappear when they are needed most.
What we don’t know is how this Rockets team will respond to their first taste of honest-to-god adversity, which they will do in Game 4. This team has cruised since the All-Star break, had an almost wire-to-wire hold on the top seed in the West and haven’t played Golden State, their rabbit in this playoff race, in months and months.
They need to find the gas pedal, and there’s no better time to do it than when the tires start to skid a little bit (note: I am not a stunt driver so cannot vouch that this is not, in fact, a terrible idea). P.J. Tucker has yet to commit a hard foul in this series, Eric Gordon has yet to shoot a respectable number and Clint Capela hasn’t continued the offensive rhythm he found in half one of game one.
All that can change in a game, and that’s the beauty of the playoffs, and basketball in general. Eric Gordon could shoot 8/10 from three, and if that happens, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which the Rockets lose. Certainly the Wolves won’t shoot better than 50 percent from deep again (right?). The Rockets merely have to be better, and there is no amount of up-stepping the Wolves can do to reach the Rockets’ level.
We still have to see it, though. I’m betting we will. 7 p.m. CT on TNT and ATTSN-SW.