NBA Playoffs 2014: Why Houston Won’t Win The NBA Finals
The Houston Rockets haven’t won an NBA Championship since the franchise “two-peated” back in 1993-94 and 1994-95 and have bowed out in the first round in seven out of their last eight playoff appearances.
This will be coach Kevin McHale’s second time taking the squad into the postseason, but it will hardly be an easy matchup as the No. 4 seeded Rockets have the task of taking on the No. 5 seeded Portland Trailblazers. The Rockets are the superior ranked team in seed only, as the teams finished with identical records.
Given their problems escaping from the first round unscathed, it seems unlikely that the Rockets will make it to the conference championships, let alone the Finals.
That being said…
Why the Houston Rockets won't win the 2014 NBA Finals
That’s how many points the Rockets give up per game, 23rd in the league. None of the squads that are ranked behind them on the list qualified for the playoffs.
The Texans and the Astros
The other sports teams in the area aren’t really positive influences. The Texans finished with the worst record in the NFL this season and the Astros are well on their way there.
Houston’s injury problems
Dwight Howard, Patrick Beverley and Chandler Parsons have all been banged up at points throughout the season and none of them are fully healthy heading into Round 1.
Speaking of Howard, that’s what he has been shooting from the free throw line this year. If teams decide to go with a “Hack-a-Dwight” strategy, it will probably work.
James Harden’s beard
It just seems like more of a hockey thing. When was the last time you saw a guy with a beard like that hoisting a championship trophy that wasn’t the Stanley Cup?
After Howard spent just one year with the Lakers (and basically half-assed it) before departing to Houston, there’s no way that the Black Mamba isn’t pissed at him. It seems totally possible that Bryant would have some tricks up his sleeve – voodoo or otherwise – to prevent the Rockets from succeeding in the playoffs.
That’s Harden’s putrid shooting percentage during the Rockets’ six playoff games last season. He’s a career .445 shooter so that number needs to come way, way, up this postseason if the Rockets are going to accomplish anything.
McHale might be walking through that door, but “The Dream” – along with Clyde Drexler, Kenny Smith and Robert Horry – are not.
The Rockets are tied for second-to-last in the league with almost 16 turnovers per game. They need to be more careful with the ball in the playoffs but it seems unlikely that will just happen overnight.
The Rockets only have two players on their roster (Francisco Garcia and Josh Powell) over that age and neither of them play much. The next-oldest player – and therefore “veteran” leader on the floor – is Howard (28). Given his maturity issues, that’s a problem.
Why we’re wrong
The Rockets have been within the top-five in the power ranks of most major sports news/information organizations throughout the year. They are also second in the league in scoring and fourth in rebounding, numbers that bode well for the playoffs.
Houston was one of the first teams in the NBA to outwardly embrace advanced statistical metrics and they are finally starting to reap the rewards with this team. Howard and Harden provide a dynamic inside/outside punch that makes the Rockets difficult to defend.
Injuries aside, Parsons exceeded expectations for the second straight year and has quietly established himself as one of the more well-rounded forwards in the league. He grabs boards, dishes the ball and can hit from deep, all of which make him extremely dangerous as the third option in Houston’s already potent offense. Parsons played well in the playoffs last year and will be looking to improve upon that this postseason.
Evan Bleier is a freelance writer based out of wherever he can plug in his laptop. You can send him questions, comments and Buffalo wing suggestions @itishowitis or "like" CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.
Photo Credit Getty