It took some time to organize my thoughts on the 2018-19 Houston Rockets. Further time spent to let some of the mental seething settle down. I thought perhaps I’d have a coherent narrative to offer, some sort of overarching theme that could encapsulate the experience of the season for Rockets fans.
It felt like a disjointed and unpleasant season all along, and that’s how it ended.
There are various ways of looking at the season, trying to track every decision, each bit of NBA business minutiae, to determine the points of failure, the things that could be improved. In a sense, that’s both the least pleasant, yet most empowering analysis. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is terribly productive, or true.
As I see it, the fact is, the Rockets are the second best team in the NBA.
(Settle down Bucks fans, let’s see how the next round goes. Beating “Boston Barely Cares” doesn’t impress me much. Sorry.)
The positive side of that conclusion is that doesn’t mean forever. By modern standards the two 1990s Rockets title teams came out of the proverbial “Closed Window”. The people who insist they know just what title winning teams look like, pointedly look away from the San Antonio Spurs, as they just don’t fit their hypothesis. James Harden still seems to be accelerating as a player, rather than declining, and that is massively positive for future chances.
Some things are far less positive, but those will be the subject of a later piece. There is, after all, plenty of time to think about it.
The idea that the Rockets remain relevant, in my mind at least, guarantees nothing of course. Teams, East and West, are at last building up for their own runs, if not this year, then in the next two.
The Rockets are essentially the only challenger to take the field against Golden State. The rewards for that have been scant. They don’t have quite enough to beat the combination of Kevin Durant, and the Warriors team that existed pre-Durant over seven games. What the Warriors look like at the end of the summer, though, remains to be seen.
Whether or not they can beat the original Warriors team did not receive a ringing endorsement in game six, as Curry and Thompson made virtually every shot they needed. That game needn’t have been close, but was, and ultimately ended badly as the Warriors made crucial shots and the Rockets didn’t.
What can be changed? More on that soon.
Ok, fine, a poll.
This poll is closed
Rockets, their time will come.
Rockets, living on time borrowed from Luka, and fightin’ Kristaps.