Rockets

Rockets in Difficult Position When Play Resumes

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The Houston Rockets were preparing to play the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, March 12th, after defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves a day prior in a game where James Harden had found his rhythm for the first time in a long time, with Russ making a strong impact as well– a mix the Rockets had desperately been seeking for the entirety of the season to that point. The win left the Rockets sitting sixth in the West, with plenty of time to improve that ranking with 18 games left in the regular season. But, in typical fashion, basketball’s higher powers would deny the Rockets that opportunity.

Well, maybe not so typical.

THE DAY THE NBA WORLD STOPPED SPINNING

As we all know, an unprecedented event would occur on March 11th. Moments after being tested positive for COVID-19, otherwise known as the “coronavirus”, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert and the rest of the team would not play the Oklahoma City Thunder that night. The NBA decided to postpone the contest, along with the Pelicans and Kings matchup that had yet to tip off. While the remaining games that night finished, the NBA world stopped on its axis. No one would be prepared for what came next.

In quite possibly his largest “bomb” yet, ESPN Senior NBA Insider Adrian “Woj” Wojnarowski announced that the NBA would suspend the entire NBA season.

This move left every basketball fan across the world stunned and confused, with many questions readied at the hip. How long will the suspension last? Will teams play the rest of their regular season games? Will there be a rest of the season? None of these questions have been concretely answered. Nobody is certain of this current NBA season’s status.

In the 14 days since the NBA’s decision to suspend their season, other professional leagues in America have followed suit, with the MLB, NHL, MLS and others postponing play. This is a pandemic that has impacted the entire world, not just the city of Houston. As of March 25th, no players on the team have been tested for COVID-19 to the public’s knowledge, while there are over 800 cases that have been reported in the entire state of Texas.

With everybody in a frenzy amidst the virus’ recent outbreak in the U.S., it seems quite insignificant to assess how this impacts the Rockets from a basketball perspective. In the spirit of keeping the love for the game alive during these trying times, though, lets take a quick look at where the Rockets stand as of now.

THE ROCKETS’ STANDING MID-QUARANTINE

The Rockets were attempting to start a good run with the playoffs approaching. The team is currently tied for the league’s 10th-best overall record at 40-24, with the Thunder boasting the same record. If the NBA decides to freeze the standings and start the playoffs immediately (whenever that may be), Houston would be matched up with the 3rd-seeded Denver Nuggets in the first round. The two West powers split their season series at two games a piece. In this dream-world scenario, the Rockets would be forced to relinquish home-court advantage for the entirety of the playoffs (assuming the Lakers and Clippers take care of their first-round opponents).

Would the Rockets be able to come out on top? Survey says: Who knows? It’s incredibly difficult to predict how the team would play with essentially months of rest with minimal team contact throughout the forced break. Would the team be fresh; injury free, and ready to go after such a long period of not playing? Would James Harden step out of the Time Chamber as rejuvenated as ever? Do the Rockets take this period of time to decide that playing Tuck’ at the five might not be the best idea, as they are poised to play quite arguably the league’s best center in Nikola Jokic? Does the Rockets’ defense figure out how to hold a team to less than 110 points? These are all great questions with no concrete answers.

HOW COVID-19 IMPACTS THE FUTURE

But, these are all questions we hope are answered sooner rather than later. We all, no doubt, miss the game more than anything right now. We miss being able to see Harden crossing over defenders with no remorse. We long for post and-one roars from Russ that can be heard all the way from Austin. There’s nothing more we wish for than a scrappy Tucker kick-out from the paint after wrestling with the other teams’ tallest players.

Overall, this virus has already done an eternity’s worth of damage to the sports world- and it’s only been two weeks. The world must continue to practice the necessary steps in order to limit the spread of this sickness. Otherwise, the NBA might be on hold for much longer than we initially anticipated.

Follow us on Twitter @RocketsLead for the latest Rockets news and insight.

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About Zach Davis

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