The Houston Rockets are soft. There, I said it. I’m not going to beat around the bush and hint that the Rockets need to toughen up. I’m just going to call it as I see it and say that they are softer than Charmin.
What proof do I have for this bold claim? The Los Angeles Clippers, who were playing without Chris Paul and coming off an emotional Game 7 victory over the San Antonio Spurs Saturday night, blew them out by 16 points on Monday in Game 1 of their second round series. In addition, their head coach Kevin McHale called them soft after the loss, criticizing their lack of effort.
Not one person thought the Los Angeles Clippers had a chance to win Game 1 of this series given their quick turnaround from Game 7 against the Spurs as well as the absence of Chris Paul, who is battling a hamstring injury. Everyone including myself, who picked the Clippers to win the series in six games, expected the Rockets to win Game 1 with relative ease. To see the exact opposite happen was nothing short of alarming, shocking, and in many ways appalling.
This isn’t to take anything away from the Clippers. They played a very good game and deserved to win. But all the same, the Rockets gave this win away and just didn’t bring it. The only guy who really showed up for the Rockets was Dwight Howard, who finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Everyone else, including James Harden, was nowhere to be seen.
In the NBA playoffs, you can’t let any win slip away, especially a game that is essentially handed to you on a silver platter. The Rockets essentially had a free win for the taking and they didn’t get it done because of their laziness and sloppy play. They should be embarrassed for how they played and their fans should be asking for refunds.
Going forward, the only things the Rockets can do is play with a lot more energy in Game 2 and tie this series up at 1-1. The Rockets can’t shake their image of being soft in one night, but they can prevent themselves from becoming the laughing stock of the playoffs. If the Rockets win tonight, they’ll still have their work cut out for them. If they lose, they will be on the cusp of being the most disappointing playoff team of the last 20 years.
—Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord