We all know the Rockets are playing to win for the fans and themselves. But one thing I can’t believe that hasn’t been discussed at all among the local or national media (maybe they will after they read this post) is that in four attempts, Rick Adelman has never beaten Phil Jackson in a playoff series, going 0-for-4.
The first series loss was in the NBA Finals in 1992 between TrailBlazers and Chicago Bulls. Then Adelman lost 3 playoff series in a row to the Lakers as coach of the Sacramento Kings in 2000, 2001 and in 2002. That 2002 series was the Western Conference Finals, a series in which disgraced referee Tim Donaghy said wrong calls were intentionally made in Game 6 to force a Game 7.
So let’s win this game for Adelman, too, because he’s probably too soft-spoken to ever admit that he would like to beat Jackson at least once in a playoff series.
It’s still amazing to think how the Rockets defied the oddsmakers who marked Houston as 9-point underdogs before Game 6, and had them down as 70-1 favorites to win the championship. I don’t know what their odds are now, but something tells me it’s better than 70-1 now. Funny how one stunning win can change everything. I bet there are a lot of people who wished they had put money down on that game and the Rockets’ chances of winning a ring.
One of the stats that I thought was amazing is that the Rockets are now 13-2 this season after suffering double-digit losses. Also, the Lakers have only scored 36 points in a first half only twice all season long, and those two games happened to be in Games 4 & 6 of this series. And the Rockets only had 1 TO in the 4th quarter. They have matured and evolved so much the past few months. Remember just a few months ago how we were talking about how they didn’t have poise in the 4th quarter?
And did you hear how the Rockets-Lakers game on Thursday was the most watched NBA game on ESPN in that network’s history?
This is the obviously the most anticipated Game for the Rockets in 12 years. One thing for sure is that Houston fans will remember this team for a very long time, win or lose Sunday afternoon. This year’s Rockets team reminds me, when I was a kid, of the 1980-81 Rockets making an improbable run to the NBA Finals with a 40-42 record led by Moses Malone. And people forget that in the playoffs the 1981 team unbelievably BEAT THE LAKERS led by Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in a best of 3 series!
I think the reason why the first round playoff series were “Best of 3” back then is because the disparity between good and bad teams was so large, they thought there was no way a top seed would lose to a lesser-seeded team in the first round.
This year’s Rockets team is like that 1981 team, except with Yao now out, imagine that team without Moses! No way that 1981 team could have gone as far as this one has without Moses, which makes the last two victories this team has had over the Lakers in this series even more impressive.
Outside of Moses, that team had the following players (I’ve noted who their 2009 counterparts would be):
– Calvin Murphy/Allen Leavell (Aaron Brooks/Von Wafer — scorer galore, quick to the basket)
– Billy Paultz (Chuck Hayes — shorter, but tough as nails and nice defender)
– Robert Reid (Ron Artest – tough defender, can hit the jumper)
– Rudy Tomjanovich (Shane Battier, a decent outside shooter, not as good as Rudy, and a much better defender than Rudy)
– Mike Dunleavy (Kyle Lowry – tough playmaker, can hit the outside shot)
– Bill Willoughby (Carl Landry — great dunker who attacks the rack)
No one on that team really matches Luis Scola, who has so many moves down low, except when he shoots from the top of the key, there are some Rudy T. similarities.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s game, the Rockets need big games from Aaron Brooks, and I’d love to see Carl Landry rattling some rims like he did on Thursday night, and Scola dominating down low. It would be nice if Artest had a bounce-back game statistically. If he did, and the other players come through, then this game is a lock.
So here we go! It doesn’t get much bigger than Sunday’s game! This is what it’s all about – these ‘unknown’ players showing how good they are on the world stage. All I know is that if the Rockets win Sunday, it could be one of the greatest series upsets since the #8 seed Golden State Warriors defeated the #1 seeded Dallas Mavericks two years ago. If the Rockets do win, do you think their win would be bigger than the Warriors beating the Mavericks in that series? If so, why? (without citing the obvious reason that Yao is out).
If the Rockets win, I can’t wait to hear Jim Rome’s show Monday morning. I like Romie, but he’s an unabashed Laker fan and cracked down on the Lakers after they lost to the Rockets after Game 4 and Game 6.