The Houston Rockets may finish this season as a mediocre basketball team.
James Harden is still putting up MVP-type numbers and Dwight Howard is playing his best basketball since arriving in Houston three years ago. However, the team as a whole is wildly inconsistent and its .500 record proves it.
I know, it hurts to read. I don’t want to accept it. There is still a teeny tiny amount of time for Harden and company to make a dramatic turnaround, and I’m seriously hoping that’s what happens. If they go undefeated over the next three games before the All-Star break, I might be singing a different tune than the melancholy one I’ve got in my head now. However, I’m preparing myself for the heartbreak of yet another first round exit and the ensuing trades, signings, and releases that would probably follow.
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The Rox have games against the Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, and Portland Trail Blazers over the next five days. At the beginning of the season, I would have predicted that Houston would easily tear their way through that schedule, but their inconsistency has taught me not to make any predictions whatsoever. Jared Dublin of Vice Sports agrees with me on how the Rockets are completely unpredictable, and discusses the phenomenon in his article, The Houston Rockets Might Really Be This Mediocre. Who knows how this week’s games will go? Seeing as the Rockets’ last six games were three straight wins followed by three straight losses, the answer is nobody.
"What do you even do with a team like that? A team so consistently inconsistent that it sits at exactly 25-25 after 50 games, a team with five winning streaks of three games or longer five losing streaks of three games or longer. A team that’s been blown out in over 20 percent of its games—they have 11 double-digit losses—but which has managed to win 18 of 29 when the score was within five points at any time in the last five minutes. This is a team that’s 12-10 against the top 10 teams in the West and 4-8 against the top 10 in the East. What is there to do other than admit that the Rockets are whatever they are on any given night, and that whatever they are that night will bear almost no relation to what they were the game before or what they might be the game after. and"
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If there is any good news in all of this, it’s that the Beard has not lost hope yet. The team leader sat down with Rohan Nadkarni of Sports Illustrated to discuss his thoughts on the season so far and answered plenty of questions: James Harden Q&A: How to slow down the Warriors, Finals lessons and more. It is clear that Harden believes in himself and his teammates to turn this ship around and make a run at a higher seed than the lowly seventh where they are right now.
Where do you see this team stacked up in the West right now?
JH: We’re still not where we want to be. We have a long way to go. We’ve had a lot of guys injured, in and out of the lineup. It’s been hard to catch a rhythm, kind of where we were last year, it’s hard to catch our offensive and defensive rhythm. You see some of these really good teams like the Warriors, Spurs, and Thunder, they’ve had their teams, their lineups. They kind of know their different spots, on the court where they’re going to be. Unfortunately, we haven’t had that luxury. We’re trying to figure it out. We started off slow but we’re trying to get better. And the only way we can go is up now.
While we can hope that Houston can turn things around with the roster as is, it may take the help of some new faces. Space City Scoop’s Coty Davis toyed with the question, Should Houston Rockets trade for Jeff Teague? Sources say that the Atlanta Hawks are shopping the 27-year-old point guard around, and the Rockets may have the personnel to pique their interest. Teague is a long range threat as well as a proven perimeter defender, and would be an upgrade to the failed Ty Lawson experiment.
"The Rockets would finally have a legitimate play maker who can facilitate, and make the game a lot easier for Harden and . In addition to becoming the Rockets second maybe third scoring option, Teague’s defense is often overlooked. With a career average of 1.2 steals per game, he will also be an upgrade to the Rockets’ perimeter defense as well. Dwight Howard"
This season has left us fans with more questions than answers thus far, but a key trade and an attitude change could propel the Rockets up back into the contender conversation. I’m becoming less and less optimistic by the second, but the post-season always has room for an upset.
Before the season started, I didn’t think that rooting for Houston would be equated with rooting for the underdog, Cinderella team, but here we are. The odds are stacked highly against them and it doesn’t look like a drastic turnaround will take place, but weirder things have happened before.
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