Coming into the year, Houston thought it would be a legitimate playoff team. That was before the injury bug, once again, hit Houston.
Yao Ming went down for the season, and Aaron Brooks was out for a month or two and still isn't back to full health. Even with this, Houston is only five games out of a playoff spot. With only 25 or so games left in the season, a playoff spot seems unlikely. But possible.
Here are a couple things Houston can do to get that playoff spot.
Ever since Terrence Williams' arrival earlier in the season, he has barely touched the court, and for the past few weeks, has been inactive.
He would add to this Houston team a toughness, defense and a two-way player. He is a fantastic athlete and an outstanding dunker.
It really wows me that he hasn't played very much—mainly because Houston needs a guy who can score and defend—especially with his skill level.
Right now, Kevin Martin is playing about 31 minutes per game. At the same time, he is the 10th-leading scorer in the league at 23 points per game. But in points per minute, he is only behind Kobe Bryant in that stat.
It's not like Houston is saving him for the playoffs or anything. At the rate they're going right now, they won't even make the playoffs. So why not do what Kevin even said he wants—play him more.
Depth is a good thing. But like all things, too much of it is bad for you. The Rockets have too much depth.
PG: Lowry/Brooks/Smith; Lowry and Brooks are both capable starting on a championship team and Ish would be a very good backup for any team in the league.
SG: Martin/Lee/Williams; Martin is one of the best scorers in the NBA. Lee started for Orlando during their championship runner-up year, and Terrence Williams is a lottery pick from two years ago.
SF: Battier/Budinger/Williams; Battier is one of the best defenders in basketball. Budinger is a excellent athlete and a solid shooter.
PF: Scola/Patterson/Hill; Luis Scola is one of the most underrated players in the NBA, averaging about 19-and-9. Patrick Patterson is a solid rookie out of Kentucky, and Jordan Hill is another solid lottery player.
C: Hayes/Miller/Hill; Hayes is one of the better post defenders in the league despite being undersized. Miller is a crafty veteran.
Most of these players would be getting big minutes somewhere else. And some of them aren't even getting minutes. The Rockets roster needs to be de-clogged.
I'm not sure who, especially now that Denver reportedly isn't trading Nene, but somehow and some way Houston needs to find a guy who is going to clog the paint.
At the moment, their starting center is usually smaller than the other team's starting shooting guard, and that needs to change, otherwise teams will have layup drills every day on you.
That guy might be Hasheem Thabeet or, who knows, maybe Denver will change their mind.
Definitely easier said than done. But Houston will need a superstar to be a contender.
Chris Paul will be a free agent soon, as will Deron Williams. Both of them might be traded before then as well.
But someway and somehow, they need to find a "superstar"-type player who can anchor the team and make them a championship contender.
Rick has been a great coach for the Rockets for many years now. But his time is up and the Rockets need to change gears by getting a new coach.
Houston needs to acquire a more defensive-minded coach.
Rick always complains about how they aren't playing defense, and on the sidelines, you see him making no conscious effort to get his guys to play defense. It goes along with not playing T-Will. Why would you not be playing one of your best defenders?
Offense sells tickets; defense wins championships.
I put some of the blame on Rick Adelman, but most of the blame should go to the players.
Lots of times they don't try and just don't look like they want to play defense. The Knicks will learn this very quickly: To win championships and get into the playoffs, defense is a must.
The Rockets need to wake up quickly and start playing some defense so they can at least make a run at a playoff spot.
I'm sure the front office is working frantically to get a big man in here as quickly as possible. That would certainly help.
Easier said than done. But the Rockets have had trouble closing out games all year. They would probably be a seventh or sixth seed right now if they won some of their close games. But, they didn't, and that's why they aren't a playoff team right now.
Kevin Martin has started to try and take command late in the game, and that certainly has helped of late. But it hasn't been enough.
If the Rockets want to be a playoff team, they need to learn how to win close games, because in the playoffs, there are a lot of close games.
Lots of times whilst watching Rockets games, I end up yelling at Aaron Brooks, Kyle Lowry or Luis Scola for throwing up some crazy shot down the stretch in games. This is because they notice we are having trouble scoring and decide to try and be superman and score.
Usually this ends up in a wild, contested shot that has no chance of going in.
Please guys, don't do this, you have a better chance of scoring moving the ball around and getting an open shot than trying to play Michael Jordan for a possession.
Before I get any hate, I think Aaron Brooks is a nice scorer who can fill it up.
But that's all he is—a scorer. He doesn't defend or make plays for teammates. He would be used nicely on some other teams, but the Rockets have no need for him and trading him for some young talent should be near the top of Daryl Morey's list.
Thanks for reading guys. Comment down below. What else do you think the Rockets can do to be a playoff team?
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