Houston Rockets Daily Rocket Science: State of the Union

Mar 11, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) chases a loose ball during the first half of a game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 11, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) chases a loose ball during the first half of a game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports /

In contrast to most expectations, the Rockets are closer to relevance after a five-game Eastern Conference road trip than they were before.

Okay, this is going to have nothing to do with the state of the Union. It’s about the state of the Houston Rockets. The team is resting from a grueling five-game road trip in which they played all five games in seven nights. Though they lost the first and last games of the trip, it’s worth celebrating that they have now moved up to the 7th seed with the 6th seed in their grasp.

On one hand, I never thought I would be happy about a 7th seed this year. One the other, Houston is close to not having to play the Golden State Warriors or San Antonio Spurs, giving them a chance at a second round appearance. It all depends on perspective.

That all being said, today’s Daily Rocket Science will be focused on the state of the team right now and what the rest of the season looks like.

Houston Rockets news and notes from around the web

We’ll start things off with a nice comprehensive update from Space City Scoop editor Tamberlyn Richardson, covering everything from Michael Beasley‘s recent performances to the Rockets’ biggest competitors’ schedules. Houston has several tough games left on the schedule, but things are laid out for them to make a run at the 6th or even the 5th seed. If they can somehow pull that off, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make a deeper playoff run than we’ve been expecting.

"At this stage the Rockets must take it one game at a time, one week at a time, but they also need to string together a run of wins. Ideally, what was observed on the road is a sign of what’s to come. If I’m right I’d expect the Rockets to finish at best in fifth, but more likely as the sixth seed. Either of those options are more appealing than having to play one of 2 teams who have literally yet to be beat on their home courts this season."

Before we do too much looking ahead, we need to remember the recent past. James Harden and company didn’t look much like James Harden and company during their last outing against the Charlotte Hornets. The Beard looked disengaged at times, settling for threes rather than seeking a better shot. he went 2/14 on the night along with 0/5 from deep. At Red94, Paul McGuire offered a game synopsis and a woeful prediction for the next game on the schedule. I’m counting on the Rockets to be able to pull one out against the Memphis Grizzlies due to their injuries, but you have to see McGuire’s point.

"The three-pointer is not a substitute for an offense, whether for Harden or for the team as a whole. And while Walker and Lin drove hard in that deciding fourth quarter, Harden largely stayed on the three-point line. He made some good passes from there, such as a nice feed to Michael Beasley. But he was all but shut down by the end of the game, which made any hopes of a Houston comeback impossible."

More from Space City Scoop

How could I do a DRS without featuring something about the Beas? The new fella is doing his best to make up for lost time, as SB Nation’s Tim Cato pointed out. He seems to be feeling pretty confident after being named China’s MVP last year, and it shows with his hilarious volume shooting. It’s almost justifiable since he’s actually making a decent amount of them; it’s just funny. I’m excited for Beasley’s contribution to the team overall.

Enjoy this beautiful, beautiful stat line from B-Easy: 18 points, 15 minutes, 9-of-19 shooting, eight rebounds. That’s NINETEEN field goal attempts in FIFTEEN minutes. OK, yeah, Beasley’s officially back.

If you were wondering whether anyone has ever shot that many times with so few minutes, the answer is no. At least since the 1983-84 season, as far as basketball-reference.com goes back, no NBA player has ever attempted 19 or more field goals in 15 or fewer minutes.

As I mentioned before, the Rockets take on a severely hobbled Grizzly team tonight. If there’s ever a time for a bounce back win, tonight is the night. Tonight’s game is one left on the schedule that I’m not sure the Rockets can win, so a victory would be real dang nice. It would put them one game closer to the 5th seed and one game closer to the not-Warriors-or-Spurs.

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