Rockets fell short, last night, and ended their playoff run, but it’s just the beginning for this young squad of talented, hard-working, unselfish players with high basketball IQs and high character. It’ll be interesting to see what type of moves Morey is going to make in the off season. I do expect them to go hard for Dwight Howard, but I think that’s a mistake. No doubt, Howard is full of talent, but he lacks all of the other traits I listed above, except maybe high basketball IQ. I think he’ll mess up the chemistry of this team and chemistry is critical in team sports. I mean, he seems to make enemies everywhere he goes. It’s no coincidence that Metta World Peace spent the playoffs complimenting big men in the league, such as Asik, Marc Gasol and Tim Duncan through his tweets. I think that had a lot to do with MWP’s disappointments in Dwight Howard as a teammate. But I’m looking a little too far ahead.
What happened in last night’s game is exactly what I expected to happen in Game 5. I also had a strong feeling that KMart would shoot the lights out in his former building, so that didn’t surprise me at all. Scott Brooks finally went of panic mode and allowed the Thunder to play without over-relying on Durant. He let Jackson be the point guard and it paid off. Although, when Rockets went out to a 10 point lead in the third quarter, I thought Rockets had a real shot of doing something special. The Lin haters are going to have a lot of ammunition from this game, because it did seem like once Lin (and the second unit) stepped onto the court, the energy drained out of the Rockets. Lin played really tentatively, which is totally understandable. And it wasn’t like he did anything to hurt the Rockets, but all of a sudden the intensity that the Rockets had to open the game went away once Beverly, Garcia and Parsons checked out. At least that’s how it seemed to me. Lin ended up with a minus 18, which is the worst on the team. Normally, +/- per game doesn’t say much, but I felt Lin’s +/- did accurately reflect his impact on the game last night. It felt, to me, that Lin played longer than 13:26 minutes. I was surprised McHale played Lin as much as he did, but looking at the minutes from the box score, that looks about right.
Rockets were also hurt by Garcia’s foul troubles. One foul occurred before the ball was even in-bounded. They didn’t replay the foul, so have no idea if that call was legit or not. Beverly also got into a little foul trouble and ended up playing only 32:41. Also, I think Harden’s strep throat was really bothering him in this game, because he didn’t look like he had much juice out there. I think he was too tired to drive and ended up settling for threes, but this time, he didn’t shoot as well as he did in Game 5.
Anyway, the season is over, but there’s a lot to look forward to. I hope Lin stays with this team, because I think they got something really special here. I’m sure Lin is looking forward to the off-season to continue to hone his game, as well as all the other Rockets guys. Lin still has yet to get real playoff experience, so his season didn’t end on a high note. It’s all the more motivation for him to do everything he can to get back here. Such bad luck for him to be healthy the entire season only to not participate in the post season, once again, and then to be back on the court in a losing effort. But now that Lin doesn’t have an injury to deal with in the off-season, he’ll get to really work on his game. I want to see him back with a deadly long range and a range of individual moves to the basket. I want him to incorporate the short jumper and be better at drawing fouls. It’s actually a good thing that Beverly got a lot of attention in the postseason, because that’s just more motivation for Lin to work even harder in the off-season. I think he feels a little like he’s fighting for his job, again. And that hunger is what you need to keep getting better.
The Rockets will be back stronger next season. There’s no doubt about that, with all the cap space they have. Hope Morey uses it wisely and doesn’t just go out and get big names just to get big names. Also, I hope they keep Garcia. He’s the veteran voice that the Rockets need on this team. Of course, all of my readers know that I prefer Garcia over Delfino. I’m glad Garcia got to finally play major minutes in the post-season, because I believed in him ever since I saw him play just a few minutes for this team (I hadn’t seen him play at all before he came to the Rockets). I also believed in Beverly’s defense and energy the first time I saw him play. I have no doubt that they’ll keep Beverly. For Beverly to improve, he’ll need to be more of a floor general. We’ll see if he can develop that in the off-season. I really like Asik as our center, so I hope it stays that way. Marc Gasol is really the only center I’d replace Asik with. I’m sure Asik is going to work on his ability to catch and finish around the rim this off-season. He’ll probably never be able to develop this aspect of his game at a high level, but hopefully he can keep getting better at it. There’s no doubt that he’ll work hard at developing it. That’s for sure. All these young guys will get better next season, now that they have a taste of their future. I’m especially curious to see what Parsons becomes next season. Can he get any better? Right now, he’s better than I expected him to be, so in my eyes, if he gets any better that’s just a bonus. I’m sure we’ll see guys get traded this off-season, but I expect the core to stay. The only two core guys who could be in jeopardy of being traded are Asik and Lin. Asik, because Morey is probably going to try and get Dwight Howard and Lin because he might be part of any deal that brings in a big name player. Also, now that the Clippers have been eliminated in the first round, talks about Chris Paul are heating up and I’m sure the Rockets are going to be involved. Harden is going to do his job and try to recruit hard for Chris Paul. After Lin’s non-performance in the post-season, I think Morey has more motivation to try and go after Chris Paul. So, it should be an exciting summer. Hope you all enjoy your summers and I look forward to hearing your thoughts about the season and this off-season. If anything interesting happens with Lin this off-season, I hope to see you here to discuss. Thanks for following me through a very exciting season. It wasn’t quite Linsanity, but better in some ways, because I wasn’t just cheering for one player, I really enjoyed watching this entire team playing team ball.