NBA Playoffs: Takeaways for the eliminated teams (Western Conference Edition)
The Western Conference has been the better of the two Conferences for quite some time now. So it is entirely predictable when one of the better teams gets eliminated in the first round. Here is an assessment of their seasons and a few takeaways for the four teams that have been eliminated in the first round of the Western Conference.
Houston Rockets (Lost 4-1 to the Warriors)
It is time for the Houston Rockets to hit the reset button. After last season’s surprise Conference Finals appearance, this season was supposed to be the breakout year for the Rockets. However, it turned out to be an absolute disaster. Eleven games into the season, Daryl Morey (Team GM), in a knee-jerk reaction, fired Head Coach Kevin McHale after reports of dissension in the locker room.
However, it never quite get rolling for the team from Texas. Even after stumbling into the playoffs as the eighth seed, the team showed little to no effort in the first round against Golden State and got rolled over in five game. This became increasingly evident with the Houston bench’s lukewarm reaction to Harden’s game-winner in Game 3.
This becomes understandable considering that the word from the locker room is that the players don’t really like each other. Such hostile work environment clearly calls for an overhaul of the team roster, and you begin with the star players- Dwight Howard and James Harden.
Though Harden’s questionable defence and offence stifling ball-hogging skills have contributed to the disappointing season, he is clearly here to stay, as the southpaw is the offensive focal point Morey wants to build around for the future. Dwight Howard, on the other hand, seemed more and more disposable as the season progressed.
The three-year Dwight Howard experiment clearly hasn’t worked out quite as well as it was supposed to. Though his first two seasons in Houston could be excused owing to his nagging injury problems, this year we got a real taste of the post-Magic Dwight, and it wasn’t really good.
The once dynamic Centre has clearly left behind his athleticism in Orlando, as he looks a complete shell of himself on offense. But this is only an ancillary problem considering that he was never a prolific scorer to begin with; as he gained household recognition through his stellar defense and multiple Defensive Player of the Year trophies. Unfortunately, within a matter of a few years, Howard has ceased to be a world class ring protector.
Admittedly, part of it could be blamed to his injuries, however, the bigger problem seems to be that he just doesn’t want it enough. And to think, there were once serious comparisons being made between him and Shaq. Dwight Howard is no Superman, and if this season indicated anything, he isn’t Robin either.