Rockets News

Space City Scoop Introduces – NBA Sideline Chirps

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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At Space City Scoop we stay apprised of all things Houston Rockets and endeavor to keep Clutch City fans up to date. As such, each week there are topical items hitting the national, social and blog media involving the team, players and the other 29 teams of the Association..

To keep the fan base current with the trends and news SCS is introducing a new weekly segment: “NBA Sideline Chirps” which will feature a back and forth question and answer exchange between Editor Tamberlyn Richardson and Senior Writer Anthony Nguyen.

How YOU can be a part of this weekly series

Clutch City has some of the best fans in the world, so we are inviting you to participate. As this segment will feature what’s most topical about your Rockets and around the NBA have your say in the comments section. Tell us if you agree, disagree or have a completely different take.

Want to have your question become one of the Sideline Chirps? It’s simple, send us your question on Twitter @spacecity_scoop and use the hashtag #SidelineChirps or message us at our facebook page Space City Scoop again with the hashtag #SidelineChirps. We’ll pick the best (or funniest) question each week to feature.

With that we give you the inaugural installment of Sideline Chirps:

Tamberlyn asks Anthony:

Q1: Kevin McHale became the first coach this season to get be fired. With his exit from Houston which coach in the Association is sitting on the hottest seat and why?

Q2: Kristaps Porzingis has become New York’s new cult hero which started with his put back dunks over various opponents. This week he posted a double-double scoring 29 points with 11 rebounds versus Charlotte. On the season he’s averaging 12.8 points per game, 8.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. Friday the Knicks shocked the Thunder beating them in Oklahoma City (no small feat). While Marc Stein ESPN opines that many are clamoring to take credit for saying they were always on the Porzingis band wagon I’m taking this opportunity to brag about my early buy in:

CHALLENGE: Prove your #Porzingis claims – Here's mine: Wonder if Kupchak wishes he'd listened to me now! https://t.co/wQS7409ca0

— Tamberlyn's Tip-Off (@TTOTambz) November 20, 2015

Notably I suggested the Lakers should have selected him second in the draft. Okay, bragging aside … here’s the question:

Is Porzingis a rookie flash in the pan? i.e. I think it’s safe to say he’ll become a valuable professional, but is his early production as a rookie going to last and will he be in the Rookie of the Year conversation?

Anthony Responds:

A1: Look, I like Lionel Hollins. He’s a comedian in his own right. If you kept a camera on him the whole game and erased all the knowledge you have of him being an NBA coach, you’d think he dressed up in a suit just to watch a tragic romantic comedy with the worst ending known in film history. When the Nets are up and actually playing like a team full of professional basketball players, Hollin’s has a smile that’ll make you want to smile just because he’s smiling. Unfortunately, when the Nets do Nets things, that smile can quickly turn into a ” I specifically said not to eat the last cookie, WHICH ONE OF YOU CLOWNS ATE IT!?” it type look.

He also takes hits like a champ.

Hollins is a great coach and I still lose sleep over why the hell he got fired right after taking the Grizzlies to the Western Conference Finals but the Nets are a mess. No one is really sure what they’re doing with their roster. Are they rebuilding? Are they tanking? Who knows. I like this team I really do, heck they were a foul away from possibly handing Golden State their first loss of the season in Oakland! Other teams fantasize about even getting that close. But bottom line here is when you lose the first annual ” 0-7 Bowl”  against the Lakers while ranking 27th overall in attendance sporting a 2-11 record, your seat happens to warm itself up.

A2:  Is this really a question? This is borderline blasphemous. Don’t you think it’s absurd that 12 games into the season and there is still no sign of a Porzingis statue outside of Madison Square Garden? This country was missing something for the past few years. I couldn’t quite figure out what it was for awhile and that drove me nuts. Luckily the great nation of Latvia knew what it was, if there is ever going to be a documentary on Kristaps here’s how it should start:

“Latvia and the United States have signed treaties on investment, trade, intellectual property protection, extradition, mutual legal assistance, and avoidance of double taxation. Latvia has enjoyed most-favored-nation treatment with the United States since December 1991.” (per Wikipedia)

Although I don’t fully understand what that all means, I do know one thing’s certain. Latvia has had it’s eye on the States for quite some time, they fully understood what this country was missing. This country needed somebody that they can wake up to every morning and say, “You know what, I can do this.”. A voice that whispers in the ear of every American in the toughest of times, “Don’t give up, keep pushing.” That my friends, is Kristaps Porzingis.

Rookie of the Year talks? For sure. Valuable professional? Most definitely. An all American hero? Without a doubt.

Buckle your seat belt fellas, we’re on a one way flight to stardom and Kristaps is the captain.

Anthony asks Tamberlyn:

Q1: With all the turmoil going on in Houston from Mchale being fired to “anonymous” players publicly addressing their dis-taste in Harden’s lackadaisical play, how do you see Houston handling the adversity? Also, how will James Harden respond to being under the negative spotlight?

Q2: The East has been quite competitive this year with teams like Washington and Milwaukee regressing while Indiana and Detroit seem to have made the leap. How do you see the Eastern Conference post season picture playing out?

Tamberlyn Responds:

A1: The fact three players already went to an ESPN reporter to complain about James Harden is an issue! That alone indicates the team doesn’t have each other’s backs or more accurately Harden’s back.

I often wonder how a team feels when a player like Harden gets all the accolades for winning. Last season Trevor Ariza, Patrick Beverley and Donatas Motiejunas were equally relevant in the wins the Rockets amassed with so many out injured, yet they never received even half the praise Harden did. Granted, it was still Harden who made the clutch shots, but if those 3 aren’t spearheading a top 10 defense and adding value offensively it doesn’t matter what Harden does.

As for any negativity Harden doesn’t strike me as a player who’ll let that get to him. More concerning is the fact he’s taking plays off and using up clock dribbling the ball prior to either going iso-ball or passing to someone with seconds left to make a shot. I think he’ll figure it out, but the reality is despite the fact he’s a great offensive threat I’m not convinced he can be the Rockets primary voice if less than 15 games into the season 3 players are already talking smack behind his back!

A2: Okay no fair, I call foul on this question (FLAGRANT FOUL)… there is no way to answer this question without touching on 12 Eastern Conference Teams, so folks my apologies… but it is what it is:

I’ve always felt there are 3 stages to a season and while a team can’t win the championship in November/December they certainly can lose it during those months.   Certain factors like strength of schedule come into play and I’ll be more intrigued by how teams are playing post All-Star break. That said, obviously the Cavaliers are favored to win the East and return to the finals and they’ve spent the money to ensure that happens. Can anyone upset them? Well, not if the zebra’s have anything to say about it, but stranger things have happened.

It’s not really a surprise Miami is performing well since Bosh’s injury and Wade’s maintenance program affected them last season. They’ll be in the mix and probably second overall if they stay healthy.  Their defense has looked stellar, but the question here is how long until Hassan Whiteside has some sort of bone head play that ends up resulting in his being suspended for multiple games?

The Bulls have internal issues with the apparent power struggle between Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose. My gut tells me it will result in Rose leaving Chicago in free agency, but for this season they’ll easily earn a playoff seed.  Conversely the Wizards are reminding me of the Raptors last season who fell in love with offense and by the time they recognized their defensive issues were real it was too late to fix them. Washington finished last season 5th defensively and are now 19th. Worse they’ve had the easiest strength of schedule having only played 9 games (Toronto and Atlanta have played 14) yet have just 1 quality win versus the Spurs.  Between December 4th and 16th they’ll face a tough run and if they are above .500 after that period I’ll have more faith in them.

The Raptors spent the entirety of their training camp and preseason working on defense and integrating new players and are now dealing with one of the hardest schedules (11 of their first 14 games have been on the road). The zebra’s haven’t done them any favors having already issued 2 separate apologies for mistakes made which likely cost them the Knicks and Kings wins. Truth be told they actually played the Warriors tougher than anyone to date. As of tonight they’ll be without Jonas Valanciunas who suffered a broken hand courtesy of Kobe Bryant, after just getting Terrence Ross back.

Kobe Bryant once broke Raptors back scoring 81, tonight he only scored 10 points so he broke Jonas Valanciunas hand instead! #BlackMamba

— Tamberlyn's Tip-Off (@TTOTambz) November 21, 2015

They still need to get their mojo flowing, but I like the personality of this team and with a 6 game home stand on the horizon it feels like they’ll eventually find a rhythm on both ends of the court and secure a seed somewhere between 3 and 6.

Boston and Indiana are benefiting from coaching with the Pacers not having a very deep bench and the Celtics utilizing a mish mash of players who seem an unlikely fit. Brad Stevens is rapidly morphing into a young Popovich with his ability to adjust in game and make quick changes, like recognizing early (what I predicted would occur by the break) Amir Johnson should start and David Lee should get limited minutes. Boston will get a playoff seed, I’m not convinced it’ll be a top 4 though. As for Indy, color me skeptical as I’m not sure they can maintain their start or be better than a 7th or 8th seed.

While everyone has been raving about the Knicks it highlights the fact no one is raving about the Hawks who once again have been steady and sure. In the end I think only one of them makes the post season. Given the Raptors own their pick (unprotected) I’m sure you can imagine where I’m hoping the Knicks finish! The Hawks will also stay in the mix, but they aren’t as scary as last season’s squad. Though they added Tiago Splitter he hasn’t provided a huge improvement for them on the boards and Kent Bazemore simply can’t replace the Hawks heart and soul that the Raptors stole from them (DeMarre Carroll).

The team I’m interested in is the Orlando Magic who are one of my favorite NBA League Pass picks (and Minnesota). They are loaded with talent, depth and potential. I think they’ll gain momentum in the second half that comes with confidence built in learning how to win those close games.

The Bucks have been dealing with copious early injuries and are still integrating a number of new roster additions. As for Detroit, I’m not convinced they have enough depth to be a factor and I don’t think it’s a secret I’m not a huge Andre Drummond fan. As soon as they lose a few watch for him to get disenchanted quickly. To reiterate something I brought up in my weekly power ranking, the Piston organization is saying Drummond didn’t take the rookie contract extension offer so the franchise could pursue a big free agent BUT.. then why did they offer him the extension?

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The x factor team is Charlotte who’ve jumped leaps and bounds offensively and nose dived defensively. Without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist that may have been expected and factoring in Bismack Biyombo‘s departure (who provided rim protection) their early defensive struggles are logical.

Ultimately I see these 6 teams taking the top 6 playoff seeds (and not necessarily in this order):

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers
  2. Miami Heat
  3. Chicago Bulls
  4. Toronto Raptors
  5. Boston Celtics
  6. Atlanta Hawks

The final 2 seeds will be a dog fight between Washington Wizards, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic.  In the end Washington should prevail (unless Wall suffers an injury) and I’d like to see Orlando take the final seed. Yeah I know the Pacers have looked good, I just don’t trust that bench.

So there you have it, our first installment of NBA Sideline Chirps. Are you in agreement? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section and make sure to tweet your questions for next week using the hashtag #SidelineChirps for an opportunity to be the featured fan question.

Next: Rockets McHale-less Era

As always, make Space City Scoop your number one stop to get all your Houston Rockets game and player news as well as interact with the writers on analytics and opinions on the team.

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