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Myth: The Rockets ceiling this year is the 2nd Round

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by SamFisher, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. SamFisher

    SamFisher Virtuous

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    The conventional wisdom held by a lot of the preseason prognosticators is that the Rockets will be a step below the WC royalty (Spurs, Thunderers, and to a lesser extent, Clips and even the freaking Grizz and should be happy to just get into the second round.

    ESPN:



    Sports Illustrated -


    Aldridge:

    There's a few things working here:

    1) Status quo bias - the Spurs and Thunder (and Clippers) come in line before them

    The Spurs and the Thunder are the best and have been for years - how could this not be true? Add to this the whole "Spurs system, play the right way, never count them out!" dogma, which predisposes favorable coverage, and the Spurs will be in the WCF's because the Spurs were in the WCFs, notwithstanding of course that just 2 seasons ago they won 61 games and managed to lose in the 1st round, but that can't happen again....right? Unless it does. Same story with the THunder. 2012 was the beginning of a glorious era of Thunder dominance due to the incredible (and incredibly likable) Kevin Durant. Of course, 2012 was also the year they ditched a top 10 player entering his prime for spare parts and cap room and the privilege of Kendrick Perkins, and 2013 was the year Westbrook went down with an injury leaving them dangerously 1-dimensional. But Westbrook can't get hurt again right? Other than him being hurt again, this is totally true.

    Why is it assumed the Rockets will get stopped by the Spurs or the Thunder? Why won't they stop the Spurs or the Thunder? Why won't the SPurs or the THunder stop themselves by playing each other in the second round?

    2) The presumption that a team has to try and fail to learn/earn their way to a deep playoff run

    This story gets told a number of times - the Bulls succeeding the Pistons, the Shaq-Kobe Lakers taking awhile to get past the Spurs. I't's a great story because it fits a nice proverbial American protestant work-ethicy narrative - try and fail, persevere, be rewarded for your hard work with ultimiate success.

    Basically, the Rockets must lose in the second round because it's not yet their turn, they must pay some dues, learn from their mistakes, and duly chastened, come back and work harder to reacht he mountain.

    To that I say horse-sh-t. THe prevailing example is indeed of good teams following up deep playoff runs with other deep playoff runs. The reason why? the same good players tend to stay on those teams from year to year - there is no divine providence rewarding teams for their glorious struggle. Look at the 2011 Heat. They went from lotto to Finals (and really should have won, had they not started celebrating at halftime in Game 2). Of course, people would like to see this as an angry God smiting the Heat down and take it as a validation to which I just laugh and walk away. Thee fact remains, adding great players makes you great, and took Miami from being an afterthought in a mediocre EC to a presumptive Finals favorite, not some imaginary form of dues-paying and ensuing rewards by a benevolent basketball god.

    3) The presumption that a team takes at least a year to gel

    Come on, this isn't a gestating elephant or an aged cabernet. The Rockets have 82 games to play together, that's more than long enough. The 95 Rockets remade their entire roster and playing style between February and April. The Heat took what, till Decmeber to rip off a 12 game winning streak in their first season together? Gel is what preseason, and at most, the first few months of the season are for.
     
  2. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member
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    Another factor to consider is home court advantage in the playoffs. Its inevitable that the Rockets won't be playing their best basketball out of the gate. We could lose ground early on for one of the top playoff seeds, as we're adjusting to incorporating Dwight Howard and experimenting with different lineups. As a result, we may not even have HCA after the first round.
     
  3. x86zibit

    x86zibit Member

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    I think a lot of you guys don't play sports. You can't "predetermine" what you should "accomplish" based on what's on paper. Really crappy teams can win if they play harder and the better team screws around. And yes chemistry is *important*, because if you have no chemistry its easy for opposition defenses to take away your preferred option, then your whole team is screwed. It takes *time* to build chemistry. Why are the spurs so ******* consistent year in year out? Why do they never go away when some team is up by 15? A decade of discipline and chemistry. They know exactly what to do in every situation, they've practiced it. Rockets doesn't. This team is still young, and I dread the moment Howard gets frustrated and Harden starts going iso ball.

    You also gloss over the fact that over the season there is very *few* practices. I've played pickup with people in *games* and even if its with the same people for a couple years, its really really hard to build chemistry in games alone.
     
  4. SamFisher

    SamFisher Virtuous

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    Also, they have HOF players that score more points than the other team.

    This is a classic example of what I'm talking about though - the Spurs are going to make it to the Finals as a just reward for their discipline, patience, and solid all-american values. The virtuous circle will continue!
     
  5. Morlock O

    Morlock O Member

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    All I can say is, last year they ranked us as a lottery team :D even with harden. they are still under-rating us... so it's time!

    Go Rockets!!!
     
  6. txtony

    txtony Member

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    Playoff experience counts.

    Our two best players have been to the final.

    For that, our ceiling is the final. :)
     
  7. Grinds

    Grinds Member

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    I can understand analysts predicting 2nd round, but to say that's our ceiling is a little silly. Our best 2 players have both been to The Finals. Our ceiling is the Finals, but I predict WC Finals.
     
  8. SamFisher

    SamFisher Virtuous

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    ...and that's an example a valid reason to discount the Rockets, along with others, such as question marks surrounding the lack of a proven PF, Dwight's back health, among others.

    That doesn't seem to be the tone, it more seems to be "it will take them a year because it just takes time" groupthink that the ESPN guys feature prominently.

    It's along the same lines of the rumored Kobe "Hey Dwight I will SHOW you HOW TO WIN!" pitch this offseason.

    Here's how you win: Score more points in 48 minutes than the other guys.
     
  9. Joe Joe

    Joe Joe Go Stros!
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    Gelling is a continuous process that doesn't magically happen after a season, after preseason, or a few months in the season. I can't remember the thread, but there was an analysis done on this had a +/- increase of 2 ppg (about 5 wins) for having 8 players return from the previous season (these numbers are approximate going off memory).

    That said, the Rockets are returning Harden, Lin, Parsons, Beverley, Garcia, Motiejunas, Jones, Asik, and Brooks. It is much easier for 1-2 players to gel when the other 6-7 players in rotation are where they are suppose to be (I can hope DMo and Jones are in right position if they make rotation). I don't see it being an issue as it pertains to the Rockets, but gelling is real. It takes more than a few months for teams with very few returning players which the Rockets aren't.

    Miami had (and still do) a huge talent lead over most teams. Gelling is a marginal victory that only matters if you are close in the talent department which did not apply to most teams after Miami was assembled. The Rockets have the talent to compete with anyone in the West. That said, OKC (provided Westbrook returns to health), the Spurs, and LAC can basically say the same thing.
     
    #9 Joe Joe, Oct 22, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2013
  10. SamFisher

    SamFisher Virtuous

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    Heh, speaking of time to gel, look at the results of last year's GM survey vs. this years:

    I guess gelling takes time - UNLESS YOU'RE THE LA LAKERS.
     
  11. forty4487

    forty4487 Contributing Member

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    Aren't these the same people that predicted we wouldn't make the playoffs last year and would be well under a .500 club?
     
  12. Sweet Lou 4 2

    Sweet Lou 4 2 Contributing Member
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    Rockets are NOT a contender.

    It's not just time to gel. We're still way too young and inexperienced of a team. Lin, Harden, Bev, Dmo, TJone, Parson - all of these guys are very young and early in their careers. THey still make mistakes that you can't afford to make as often as they do. It's not gelling, it's just maturing.

    And Howard is in the midst of changing his game. That isn't going to happen in just one year.

    Young teams don't win rings. Our avg age last year was 24. The youngest team to win a ring in the last 30 years was 27. The last time a team that was 26 that won a ring was 1980 Lakers - 33 years ago. A different era!

    Need to be realistic here - this team is good, and fun to watch. But we are not going to the WC finals this year. Not unless SA and OKC, and the clips really have something bad happen to them.
     
  13. hikanoo49

    hikanoo49 Member

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    also, i think our coach is unproven

    if we had a Van Gundy or a Phil Jackson, I would bet their tunes would change

    We would play the Heat in the finals if we had a real coach
     
  14. Tdugs710

    Tdugs710 Member

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    Depending on how everything pans out with the PF situation and if everyone meshes pretty well, I think they are sleeping on us just a little bit. I'm not saying championship because that's a daunting task, but I do think we can make it to the WCF at least.
     
  15. Nook

    Nook Member

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    We will have to let the season play out, but I see no reason the Rockets are not in the discussion to win the West. Further, with Howard and Asik inside, it is very possible the Rockets could cause serious match up issues with the Heat.
     
  16. RocketScientist

    RocketScientist Contributing Member

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    Sam - nice post, fun to read and almost completely agree

    1. Spurs/Thunder (Clippers/Rockets for that matter) are 1 injury away from being non-contenders. Having said that i think when playing at their best any of those 4 teams could win a 7 game series depending on luck and divine providence.

    2. Heat not winning the first year may not have been an angry God, however i think Karma had to have played a role in the over the top and smelly arrogance spewing from the Heat locker room. (RocketScientist hits SamFisher in the back of the head with crumbled paper ball as he walks away from the conversation :cool:)

    3. Gel time is over rated. We are dealing with all the millenials and they aint waiting 10 years to become an executive manager at their firm. One needs not to look any further than the Heat.

    We have a legitimate shot at reaching the Finals. Period. Once you're there its anybody's for the taking unless you run up against a focused, disciplined, and hungry team.
     
  17. Nook

    Nook Member

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    McHale has done nothing to make me believe he is not capable of being the coach of an NBA Finals team. He also has excellent help surrounding him.
     
  18. SamFisher

    SamFisher Virtuous

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    The Rockets are led by 2 top 10-caliber players who have both been either the centerpiece or a main cog of NBA finals teams.

    Too young to make the Finals?
     
  19. Joe Joe

    Joe Joe Go Stros!
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    The Lakers could be a great example for gelling if it wasn't also dependent on age and health. Nash, Gasol, and Howard all performed better than two years ago than they did last season. Howard was coming off injury and seemed slow. Nash and Gasol may have hit aging wall.

    Talent is the most important thing in the NBA. It really looked like the Lakers had more than anyone else in the West at the start of the last season.

    Adding Star Player> Asik> Gelling
     
    #19 Joe Joe, Oct 22, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2013
  20. webattorney

    webattorney Member

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    Response

    Agreed. I don't see the "leader" type of player who will command respect for other players to follow.

     

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