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The Same Rockets, Only Different

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We say revolution when we mean circle.

Utah Jazz v Houston Rockets - Game Five
If he’s not perfect, he’s not anything.
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

I’ve probably written this piece, or something very like it, before. That’s alright, sports have a certain amount of sameness to them.

The same game, with the same rules, with the same goal in mind, will always produce results that resemble each other, while never being exactly the same. It’s part of why high level sports, or any sports, really, are so successful. Sports effortlessly achieve the ideal pattern of the Hollywood blockbuster: “The Same Thing, Only Different.”

This year’s Rockets were the same thing, only different. I’ll present what I think the differences are in the form of a dialog between me and a strawman a media composite figure I’ll call Skippy Berkeley Von Ringenberg.

SB: Jump shooting teams can’t win championships!

X: Pretty much all the recent champions have been jump shooting teams. Don’t let a few pretty passes, dunks or layups fool you. Do we have to talk about this anymore?

SB: No. I just say it out of habit. Like this one! The Rockets don’t play defense! Not playoff defense!

X: They do, actually. Some measures have them No. 1 in half-court defense, which is presumably what you mean by “playoff defense”. Of course, what the Warriors kill you with is fast breaks, so the Rockets better not turn it over much.

SB: Win or go home! The Rockets turn it over too much!

X: Since about January, they don’t.

SB: That’s because they’re doing so much boring ISO ball! The dates line up!

X: Nope. Wait, you just said something that’s likely correct. Huh. Yeah, the slower pace seems to lead to far fewer turnovers.

SB: ISO ball is boring!

X: I thought you liked macho mano-a-mano stuff? What’s more macho than ISO? And weren’t you supposed to say “The Rockets Fancy Offense Won’t Work In The Playoffs”?

SB: Take that as read, but it just seemed incompatible with the ISO stuff.

X: It kind of is. It’s the Rockets’ answer to their offense being less potent when the pace slows, teams run them off the three-point line, guys mug Harden, whatever.

SB: Boring!

X: But you always say their regular offense wouldn’t work in the playoffs. So now the Rockets have a really effective half-court offense, for the playoffs. (I’ve often thought that without the playoff stakes and intensity, a lot of playoff games would be terrible regular season games.)

SB: They look fat in that offense.

X: For a second there I thought we were in danger of having a real conversation break out. Back to your normal abusive relationship with the Rockets. Familiar ground.

SB: Fat. Choker.

X: And we’re done.

SB: MDA misses his mustache.

Poll

How many NBA fans realize the things they don’t like about the Rockets are also an answer to their criticisms of the Rockets?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    Almost no one.
    (133 votes)
  • 19%
    Many, if they stopped to think about it.
    (67 votes)
  • 11%
    Only lovers of ISO and Irony.
    (38 votes)
  • 29%
    Mavs in Four? This answer is less relevant than usual. Which is saying something.
    (99 votes)
337 votes total Vote Now