The Winning Streak’s Over, Our Losing Streak Against Them Isn’t

Houston’s remarkable winning streak did come to an end earlier tonight (ie 15 minutes ago), but they’ll still be a formidable opponent for New O. They beat us twice during their 22 game stretch (once with Yao, once without if I’m not mistaken), but we get one last chance to exact revenge. I talked to the Dream Shake about the matchup and other things Rocket:

At the Hive: Let’s start with Houston’s biggest constant this season: defense. Nobody plays it as well as the Rockets in the West, but Houston doesn’t have any “brand-name” defensive players (other than maybe Battier). So what’s going on? Does Adelman get most of the credit?

Battier will be, and should have already been, a brand name defensive player after this year. The way he covers one on one and plays help defense should truly win him defensive player of the year. But the person I credit most with the defense is Adelman, and not for the reasons some might think. I credit Adelman because he was smart enough to leave what wasn’t broken alone, and to emphasize it in a way that he never has before in his career. Jeff Van Gundy is a defensive god and Dave and I both loved what he brought to Houston, Adelman has benefited greatly to what he instituted here in Houston, but he chose to benefit. Other coaches would have just put in their system and wouldn’t have studied or learned from what the great hairless shorty wonder did. Adelman took it, learned it and made it his own. I’m extremely impressed with the coaching job he’s done. To date, he’s the coach of the year bar none.

At the Hive: I read two very different opinions on the Rockets the other day- one in the Houston Chronicle and the other in the Houston Press. The first one basically credited the streak to McGrady, claiming Houston’s offense would not function without him, and naming him the MVP. The other said calling McGrady the MVP undermines the team effort during this streak. Which side are you on?

I’m guessing that “opinion” came from Richard Justice (ed. note- It did.), and while I don’t hate Dicky J, he’s a classic bandwagoner here in Houston. He is given the freedom to write about pretty much whatever he wants at the Chronicle, and rarely (unless no one is winning) does he choose a team that isn’t winning to write about. I’m not completely convinced he watches the Rockets games. I know he at least sometimes attends, but I think his PTI appearances and being the go to guy in Houston for ESPN has gone to his head. He’s actually a really good writer, but I feel like he’s at the point in his career where he has too much going on and isn’t focusing on putting out a good product. His poor takes on the Texans are legendary at our friends’ DaGoodDaBadandDemeco’s site and it’s not a surprise that he would have a take like that on the Rockets. So that was all a long winded way to say that, TMac is not the MVP. He spent too much time on the bench not buying into the team concept early in the season. Now that he has bought into it, and drives that team concept it seems like the wrong thing to do to make him the league’s MVP. I think if you asked him he wouldn’t want it (he’d accept it though, every NBA player has an ego, though not all bigger than mine).

At the Hive: Winning 22+ in a row against different teams is one thing, but playing (up to) 7 games in a row against the same team can be a grind. How deep a playoff run do you think this Houston team is ready to make?

The Rockets defense is not going to stop in a 7 game series, we are actually a better defensive team this year than we were last. Mostly because Shane does not have to guard many PFs anymore and is allowed to concentrate on the great guards and small forwards of the league. He’s able to do that as long as Scola, Hayes and Landry keep sticking under 6 fouls a piece. Our team is much better as a whole than they were last year. I would feel worlds better if Yao was still playing, but if he was you’d be getting a lot more cocky team with this long streak because they would know the big man had their back. Instead we have a team that can get beat up down low, but is learning every day how to play better and better defense. I don’t think a 7 games series will do anything but help that. Our defensive rotation and help team defense isn’t really a secret, we just play the hell out of it and beg you to beat us over the top. That’s why a team like Golden State is scary but why I feel like we match up extremely well with everyone else. I’m not saying we’re better than the other teams, I’m just saying I don’t think we’re necessarily worse.

At the Hive: 22 games in a row… it’s just hard to fathom. On your all time list of Rocket memories, where does this winning streak rank?

Here are my top 5 memories of the Rockets

5. 1986 Western Conference Finals – Ralph Sampson’s tip in to go to the finals, this is one of my very first Rockets memories

4. 22-1 to open the 1993-4 season, we were phenomenal, just destroyed teams. Exceptionally fun team to watch. We started the season 15-0 and Hakeem destroyed Patrick Ewing during the early going. The good guys pulled out some absolutely ridiculous wins to put the NBA on notice.

3. 22 games in a row – Self Explanatory

2. 1994-5 Championship – The second was almost as sweet. Clyde Drexler got his championship ring and Phi Slama Jama was back. Much more fun brand of basketball for the masses and the first time a 6 seed won it all. And yes, Michael Jordan was back, no excuses from the Bulls.

1. 1993-4 Championship- First major championship in Houston history. How could it be anything else? People have said it is the most boring NBA finals in league history. It wasn’t the Rockets fault. I get it, but I loved watching it. Great passing, great shooting, phenomenal inside/outside game. I imagine it was fun for me like the Spurs are fun to their fans.

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2 Responses

  1. A lot of people wanted the Hornets to be the one to break the Rockets’ streak. Personally, I think that is crazy. Especially because this Hornets team is not going for glory, they’re going for wins. (That enough wins at the end of the year can bring glory is a whole other matter…) I think the Rockets were buying into all the bandwagon myths about them and they felt invincible, so they played fearless. Now, all those bumps and bruises are going to be felt. If they didn’t shoot well against Boston, maybe they’ll wonder if their luck ran out. All of this adds up to things as a Hornets fan I want to see in an opponent. So we need to come out swinging in the first quarter and go for an early knock out. As an aside, Adelman started pulling his starters with eight minutes to go. He was already worried about us.

  2. The thing with Houston is they get so few easy buckets. I watched them play again versus the Celtics yesterday, and the majority of their shots came off jumpers. Now, granted, Boston’s defense will invariably force you to take many jumpers, but when your best driver (McGrady) is settling for fadeaway 20 footers over guys like Rondo, something is wrong.

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