The Houston Rockets have had an indifferent season despite having one of the best rosters in the NBA and also being an exciting team to watch. Recent shocking losses to struggling teams such as the Portland Trailblazers and the Phoenix Suns have marred some of the Team’s impressive displays and results. However, the Rockets are gradually beginning to pick up steam, with the games coming thick and fast.
Saturday’s 111-110 overtime victory at the Boston Celtics represented a sixth consecutive win at a pivotal stage of the season. The win over the Celtics also preserved their position as leaders of the Southwest Division. The victory also ensured that the Houston Rockets stay in contention for a playoff spot in fourth on the Western Conference table with a 39-20 win-loss record with 23 regular-season games remaining. Except for the two recent games against the Boston Celtics, the Rockets have been dominant in the other games against the Golden State Warriors, Utah Jazz, New York Knicks, and the Memphis Grizzlies. Those wins have also reaffirmed the belief of a possible third NBA Championship title at the end of the season. The Rockets’ recent good form has been down to a few factors. Here, we take a look at these factors and assess their chances of making the playoffs eventually go on to win the first NBA Championship since 1995.
The Russell Westbrook and James Harden effect on the Team
Point Guard Russell Westbrook’s move from Oklahoma City Thunder to the Rockets saw him reunited with his ex-OKC teammate James Harden. Westbrook’s arrival provided James Harden, the perfect partner he always wanted beside him in the Rockets team. With Russell Westbrook in the Team, the Rockets have also moved on from being reliant on James Harden to produce the magic every time, which was evident in the last game against the Celtics as Russell Westbrook finished the game with an impressive 41 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. James Harden, on the other hand, had a minimal impact in the game, contributing 21 points, four rebounds, and eight assists in a game he struggled to outplay his opponents.
Despite the recent setback, Harden and Westbrook have been able to establish a solid partnership that has seen them dominate their Team’s leaderboards on multiple occasions with astonishing figures. James Harden leads the Team’s leaderboard for average points per game (34.9), average assists per game (7.3), average steals per game (1.7), and average blocks per game (0.9). Russell Westbrook has also averaged the most rebounds per game (7.9).
In all departments of the game, Russell Westbrook has averaged 27.6 points per game, 7.9 rebounds per game, 7.2 assists per game, 1.7 steals per game and 0.3 blocks per game.
These numbers represent a fair contribution from the two main men in the Team, making them pivotal to the Rockets’ progression. The solid understanding and partnership between the two big men is a huge asset for the Rockets. Should both the Rockets keep them healthy and injury-free, they will go a long way to securing an elusive NBA Championship their talents deserve.
Robert Covington Proving His worth
For the Rockets team, the microscope has always been on the two big names, Harden and Westbrook, because of the star power they possess. However, behind these two mammoth giants is a list of several players who work hard in the shadows of the two big names in the Team. Among this list include the trio of Shooting Guard Eric Gordon, Center Clint Capela, Center Isaiah Hartenstein, Small Forward Danuel House Jr., and Power Forward P.J. Tucker have also come good at specific points in the season. The latest player to enter the fray for the Houston Rockets is none other than last month’s acquisition, Power Forward Robert Covington.
In the course of their recent winning run, Power Forward Robert Covington has contributed his fair share for the Team’s success. Covington has finished three of the Rockets’ last six NBA games with the highest rebounds with the latest one coming in the game against the Celtics. Covington recorded 16 rebounds at the end of the game.
In his last ten games, Covington has averaged 12.7 points per game, 7.9 rebounds per game, and 1.3 assists per game, the most consistent performances in the Rockets team since his move from Minnesota Timberwolves last month. A continuation of these consistent performances could see him play a significant role for the Team and end this season on a high note.
The Rockets’ Chances of securing a Playoff Spot
In their current position, there is a lot of optimism amongst the Rockets team for a run in the playoffs. However, they still have big games on the road at Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas Mavericks and Indiana Pacers. The Rockets also have a crunch home game against the Clippers this week. It will, therefore, be intriguing to see how they fare in those fixtures. Despite these stumbling blocks ahead, they are still favorites to make the playoffs.