Houston Rockets ruined the hopes of the entire NBA

Houston Rockets ruined the hopes of the entire NBAOne of the greatest thing in basketball is when a new rivalry appears between two teams that are eager to destroy one another. Some examples of such rivalries are Los Angeles Lakers – Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons – Boston Celtics, or Detroit Pistons – Chicago Bulls. But the most recent rivalry was between Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. These two teams have met each other in all of the last four years, offering an incredible contest every time.

It was amazing to see LeBron James and Kyrie Irving go against Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, but at some point, it became very boring.  In the last two seasons,
we could’ve bet all our money on Warriors becoming the NBA Champions. Even though this scenario was confirmed, the Golden State Warriors had a more difficult path that it was expected. The team that caused the most problems to the organization ran by Bob Myers was Houston Rockets.

Led by James Harden, one of the most prolific scorers in the NBA, and by Chris Paul, one of the smartest players that are out there, Houston Rockets managed to win the regular season. Clint Capela, Trevor Ariza, Luc Mbah A Moute and the other components of the team each did their job with a lot of professionalism and that aspect was easily observed. As expected, the Houston Rockets met the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals and they were very close to winning that series. Unfortunately for them, Chris Paul got hurt and after that Golden State Warriors came back from 3-2 and qualified in the NBA Finals for their fourth consecutive year.

In the summer, Golden State Warriors became even stronger with the addition of DeMarcus Cousins so they remain the favorite to win the NBA title. The only other team that was considered to have a shot at beating the Warriors in a 7-game series was Houston Rockets so almost all basketball fans rooted for them. They started well by giving a new contract to Chris Paul, while also assuring that James Harden is happy at the team. And then they had to take a difficult decision: to pay Clint Capela more money or to keep some money in order to convince Trevor Ariza to stay in Houston. The management chose the first option and by doing so they gave up on Ariza and Mbah a Moute, two excellent defensive players. Another bad decision that the Texas organization took was to let Jeff Bzdelik, their defensive coach, retire.

Mike D’Antoni, an offensive specialist, signed Carmelo Anthony, who was in his prime one of the best scorers from the entire league. By doing so, the Houston Rockets became really good at scoring the ball but they lack the defense, which is essential in winning. The results were seen very soon, as the Houston Rockets started the season with 7 losses in 11 games. Last year, the team that had Jeff Bzdelik needed 32 games in order to lose 7 games, so we observe a huge difference. Out of 30 teams, Houston Rockets was ranked 21st in the league on defense, which is incredible if we think that in the last season they were the 6th team.

Of course, the team needed a scapegoat, and they found it in Carmelo Anthony, a player who is at the end of his career. Consequently, some of the members of the board announced that Anthony will part ways with Houston Rockets very soon. Personally, I believe that they should’ve waited more time in order to take such a decision and that they should’ve analyzed what the real problem is. I’m not saying that Carmelo Anthony is playing great but Chris Paul is averaging 34.8% from the three-point line and 41.9% inside the paint, while James Harden has 5.3 turnovers per game.

Indeed, the Houston Rockets won the last two games, in which Carmelo Anthony didn’t play, and they seemed to raise their level, but we’ll see if the can keep this up. Until then, it is clear that Houston Rockets is not as good as it was last year, so the entire league’ hopes of Golden State Warriors not winning a title again are getting destroyed. Or maybe Toronto Raptors could be the team to beat the Warriors?

David Istrate, info@brainbasketball.net

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