I renewed this blog not only to harness my considerable influence upon the international basketball community to support the NBA during the pandemic but also because I really wanted to know how far the Rockets can go small ball. Ok I’ll be honest, that’s a great big part of the reason. Like anyone interested in the game I wanted to know: How far can small ball last? Is it really the new way to play basketball?
Unfortunately for the Rockets they were eliminated today by a highly charged and energetic Los Angeles Lakers team highlighted once again by their perennial superstar Lebron James (29-11-7 in 30mins) with 6 of their players in double figures.
The opposing side however only had Harden (30-6-5 in 42mins), Westbrook and Jeff Green scoring more than 10. While Harden looked like he was ready to unleash one of his vaunted 50 pt games the playoff conditions and the Laker’s tremendous energy refused to allow such a thing to happen.
I’m not exaggerating when I say energy is what makes LAL the superior team. It isn’t a specific statistic or one player’s performance. Rather the whole team just looked ready to play. Great passes, strong rebounds, good positions, few errors, smart plays all around. All of these contribute to crisp play almost as if they were *gasp* a team of people playing in unison, which once you look it up is the definition of what a team is supposed to be.
The Rockets on the other hand, while already having to field small guys to guard the likes of giants like Anthony Davis, Markief Morris and James, also had to deal with distractions that can only be described as severely unnecessary to the point of being sad.
Harden has expressed that they are only ‘a piece away’ from going all the way and I believe him. The Rockets are a formidable team with formidable players and this loss takes nothing away from that fact. They might be losing their coach though, so that’s a big factor right there.
As for the questions I asked in the beginning ie., is small ball the way to go and can you go all the way with it?’ The answer at least for season 2019-20 is I Still Don’t Know. Situations arose where it was just not going to happen for the Rockets whether they were going to play small ball or not. It just wasn’t in the cards for them. And with Harden saying he and Westbrook will just have to keep trying, that can only mean I will just have to wait till next year to find out.