With the Houston Rockets clutching to their postseason lives, it is time for them to ride a wave of Linsanity.
The Rockets currently sit with a 36-31 record, which has them in seventh place in the Western Conference. That leaves them a full game ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers and just two games ahead of the ninth-place Utah Jazz.
The Rockets have largely been treading water. They are 5-5 over their last 10 games. This is not as good as the team two games in front of them—the Warriors—or the Lakers.
That mark has allowed them to put some distance on the Jazz, though, who are just 3-7 over their last 10.
In-state rival, the Dallas Mavericks, are 7-3 over their last 10 and in 10th place in the Western Conference, but they are four games behind the Rockets. With both of those teams having just 15 games remaining, it is a little far-fetched to expect Dallas to catch Houston.
The point is, barring a big surge by the slumping Jazz, the Rockets should feel good about their playoff chances. But they can't let that lead them to complacency.
The Rockets' sights need to be set on something far higher than simply making the playoffs this season. While that is a step in the right direction for this floundering franchise, they can't let that allow them to take their eyes off of bigger prizes.
This is where riding the wave of Linsanity comes in. Point guard Jeremy Lin is making nice strides with this team, and he is currently playing his best basketball of the season.
Despite his healthy wage and big expectations, Lin has largely been an afterthought in the Rockets' offense. James Harden is the focus of this team. He is averaging 4.9 more field-goal attempts per contest than the next closest player, Chandler Parsons.
At 12.2 FGA, Parsons is averaging 1.5 more attempts than Jeremy Lin. Both of those players are also averaging more minutes than Lin. The point guard checks in at 32.5 minutes per game. That is almost four full minutes less than Parsons and six minutes fewer than Harden.
My point is not that Parsons and Harden don't deserve the role they have. Harden is clearly this team's star, and Parsons is an up-and-coming scorer.
However, the Rockets have to learn to trust Lin and give him a bigger role. To their credit, the Rockets are moving in this direction. The big step came when point guard Tony Douglas was involved in the trade that brought Thomas Robinson to Houston.
Prior to that, Douglas was the preferred option at point guard in the fourth quarter. He had more experience, and clearly more trust from the coaching staff.
Now, that trust must be placed in Lin. It has been a journey for Lin this season as he learns how to play with Harden, but he is certainly acclimating.
Over his last three games, he is averaging 19.3 points, six assists and two steals per game while shooting 55 percent from the field, and he has been coming up big for the Rockets when they have needed him.
If the Rockets are going to continue to evolve, they are going to need Lin to be play at an All-Star level. Lin is carrying a hot hand right now, and Rockets coach Kevin McHale should milk that for all it's worth.
Not only will this help the team in the immediate future, but it will help build trust in Lin, give him confidence and allow this team to start building an identity worth building around.
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