With the Houston Rockets down 0-3 to the Oklahoma City Thunder, there can still be a lot to salvage for the Rockets in game 4 Monday night. A playoff win for the youngest team in the NBA can create a lot of momentum going forward. While no team in NBA history has ever come back from a 0-3 deficit, it has been done before in the NHL and MLB. I’ve always believed that if there was a NBA who would come back from being down 0-3, it would be a young team. A young team who lets loose, has fun, and plays with nothing to lose. This year’s Rockets team fits into that criterion.
Houston has played the last two games like the team that we’ve come to known throughout the regular season, getting up and down the court, knocking down threes, and feeding off their energy. Both games, the Rockets have held the lead in the final stages of the game, and both times, they have not been able to finish off the win. If the Rockets hold a late lead again in game 4, their ability to close out the game can lead to an extremely high level of confidence.
As of Monday’s shootaround, Kevin McHale stated that Francisco Garcia will start in place of Jeremy Lin, along with Patrick Beverly, James Harden, Chandler Parsons, and Omer Asik. Lin re-aggravated his chest contusion in game 3 and sat out the remainder of the game from midway through the third quarter. He was also highly ineffective during his time out on the floor, scoring just 2 points on 1 for 6 shooting in 18 minutes. It is unknown if he will be able to play, but chances are he will not. Aaron Brooks may get some time as the first guard off the bench. Regardless, it’s a tough thing that Lin would have to go through with it.
“That’s a big decision for us to make,” McHale said. “I know Jeremy really wants to play, but he could not do a lot of stuff last night. We’re going to have to wait and see, because it doesn’t do any good for him to play if he can’t help us.
But the Rockets must focus on limiting Kevin Durant. Durant scored 41 points in game 3 in the Thunder’s first game without Russell Westbrook, but was held to just 14 points in the second half. Garcia did the best job defending Durant, and might get the opening assignment on him Monday night.
But McHale is focusing on being able to close out the game.
“The last couple of games we put ourselves in position to win,” McHale said. “(Monday) night we’ve got to put ourselves over the top and make them make big, big plays down the stretch.”
The Rockets lament their missed chances in the past two games, but say the close calls gave them confidence that they can beat this team. They’re undaunted by the fact that no NBA team has come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven playoff series.
“Eventually someone’s going to do it,” Parsons said. “So we’ve got a perfect opportunity to go out here and shock the world.”