Houston Rockets: Pretender Or Contender?
By Darth Bynumite:
First of all, I’d like to say that I knew what I wanted to write about on this subject BEFORE the Laker game. What happened in last nights game has had little bearing on what I was going to write about.
Anyway, it’s clear that the Houston Rockets are a team that have the tools to be a Championship team. However, when all of their pieces go together, will the pieces fit? Or will the pieces not match well and therefore leave the jigsaw with an empty gap?
Tracy McGrady told Stephen A Smith that the Rockets were a team built for the Post-Season. Is that so Tmac? Because I really don’t see it, I really don’t. Look Tracy, it seems that at the moment, all of the real Championship contenders have a “big 3”. The Boston big 3, the Lakers big 3 and so forth. So let’s examine your big 3:
Tracy McGrady, Ron Artest, Yao Ming. Now could you please tell me how many playoff series you guys have won combined? Can you tell me how many Championships you guys have won combined? Exactly.
I mean, the Lakers big 3 isn’t exactly the most experienced group, but at least Kobe has won 3, and now Pau has been to a Championship. At least Kobe has experience in hard playoff situations and has come out on top, and now Pau is gaining the experience. You also can’t forget a guy like Derek Fisher who brings a lot of experience as well. Poor Mr. First Round Virgin here has proven useless in the clutch situations. In fact, Yao Ming will probably have a hard time being healthy enough to play most of the season AND the playoffs.
So what are the Rockets to do? Well first of all, they can’t rely on Tracy McGrady. Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwight Howard and so forth, these are guys you can RELY on. You KNOW that 95% of the time they will be unstoppable especially in key situations. No star player who plays on a half decent team should not even get out of the 1st round, McGrady.
What else? Don’t rely on Yao. I think you see where this is going, but I’ll continue. Yao for his size really doesn’t have the toughness physically or mentally. He gets out rebounded by guards, blocked by guards, and dunked on by guards. That’s just unacceptable for a starting Center in the league who is a good foot taller than the average height for an NBA player. I don’t know what it’s going to take for Yao to actually just “lose it”. He definitely has improved his rebounding over the last two seasons, but I’d really like to see him get angry and play with some real motivation.
So here we are, with the Rockets, a team who can’t rely on two of their biggest stars in crunch time simply because their two biggest stars are mentally soft. They don’t have the assassin mentally a Kobe Bryant or LeBron James has. Ron Artest goes a LONG way for them , but one guy can only do so much.
What could help the Rockets? Well they are going to have to try and move Tracy McGrady for a younger guy who could possibly be as good as McGrady, but have the winning edge at the same time. There are a lot of good players in the league, who could well have been legendary, but they just lack the winning edge. Lacking the winning edge in key times is the story of this Rockets team, and the first way to start fixing that problem, is having a leading star player with a winning edge mentality.
The fact is, that winning streak last season meant NOTHING to me, because they crashed out of the 1st round like an over achieving lottery team.
The Rockets may get #2 seed, they may even get #1 seed ( I doubt it). Tracy McGrady may look great during the regular season, Yao Ming may look like the 2nd best Center in the league, their offense may not look as bad as it really is, but come playoff time, all their weaknesses and gaps will be exposed in the 1st round and if they are lucky enough, 2nd round. The Rockets are a championship pretender. They will never beat the Hornets, Lakers in the West, or the Celtics in the Finals.