It's about that time when we can finally utter the four most important words in basketball: the NBA is back. Yes, I know we're only in the preseason, but it's been a long time coming.
Just let me have this moment, please. After all, we had an ejection, when things got rather....testy between Dillon Brooks and Daniel Theis (no pun intended).
And don't tell me not to overreact to one preseason game of action, because that's just not fun. We need to overreact!
The Rockets beat the Indiana Pacers so that means they'll automatically win the NBA Finals, baby!
That would be a ridiculously egregious overreaction that I'm not even sure anyone would believe. However, there are a few things to take away from the opener, including one positive and one negative.
Let's start with the negative.
Houston Rockets struggle to make free throws
Free throw misses are a relatively easy thing to correct, as it simply boils down to concentration. We've seen players struggle from the line one game and not miss any free throws in the next game.
Perhaps this is a relatively minor concern. Maybe it'll self-correct with added focus from the charity stripe.
The Rockets made just 71.8 percent of their free throws (28-of-39), which simply won't be good enough for a Rockets team with their sights on contending. Wins often come down to the little things, like making free throws.
And perhaps the most concerning thing about the Rockets' struggles from the charity stripe in their preseason opener was the fact that two players who are going to play a huge factor in the Rockets' success this season, Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun, were the main culprits. Green went 1-of-5 from the charity stripe and Sengun went 6-of-10 from the foul line.
That's not going to cut it.
Now on to the positive.
Rockets' significant improvement on the defensive end
The Houston Rockets were a great defensive team in their latest victory. That....feels...weird to type. For several reasons.
Obviously the Rockets haven't had many victories in recent seasons, yes. But the Rockets have also been a God-awful defensive team for the last several seasons.
(Again, let me have this moment.)
An even bigger surprise was the fact that Sengun was arguably the best defender for the Rockets. It shouldn't exactly be a huge surprise, as Sengun had been talking about his emphasis on the defensive end of the floor, but it was fair to question whether he even had that skillset.
But it wasn't just Sengun. The Rockets were communicating on defense, which is a huge step in the right direction.
In addition, the Rockets were anchoring down on defense, as the effort was much better than what we've seen. The Rockets' switches even looked purposeful, which goes back to the communication.
All in all, there was some good and bad from this game, which is to be expected. And although it was simply the first preseason game of the season, the Rockets played well.
Now on to New Orleans.