After a 4-7 start and it is mid-November, Kevin McHale is let go by the Houston Rockets front office and is replaced by interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff. After McHale was fired, the Rockets won their first game for Bickerstaff and James Harden erupted for 45 points, 11 assists, 8 rebounds, and 5 steals. Things could have been better for the Rockets if they hadn’t gotten rid of McHale. Time will tell if Houston will get better with J.B. Bickerstaff as the head coach for the rest of the season.
Stephen Curry scores 24 points and the Golden State Warriors beat the Sacramento Kings last night. The Kings were trying to pressure Curry to miss shots, thanks to Rajon Rondo’s pesky defense on Curry. It was to no avail. The Warriors recovered in time to seal the win. The Atlanta Hawks beat the Washington Wizards on this night also. Tiago Splitter has turned up with the Hawks and his defense and rebounding has sparked Atlanta. Also, the Houston Rockets beat the L.A. Clippers last night.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have swept the Atlanta Hawks, because talent beats teamwork. Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer is trying to implement a free-flowing offense without a low post threat. Good luck with that. With Lebron James taking on everyone on the Hawks basketball squad guarding each of them, the Cavs’ role players have stepped up to contribute to team success. The Golden State Warriors haven’t been to the NBA Finals and haven’t won it in forty years. That will change on June 4, when the Warriors host the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1. Who wants it more? The Rockets have tried to grind out the Warriors in style, but that’s not their game and not the case in Game 5.
The Cleveland Cavaliers finally left the East semifinals, leaving the Chicago Bulls behind and sending Tom Thibodeau’s squad home. The Cavaliers will be facing the Atlanta Hawks and this will be a showdown between Lebron James and the run-fast up-tempo game that Mike Budenholzer implanted on these Hawks players. Lebron James will have to pick his poison on who to defend on the Hawks whether it’s Jeff Teague or Paul Millsap. The Atlanta Hawks dispatched of the Washington Wizards in six games. The Golden State Warriors, led by NBA league MVP Stephen Curry, will be taking on the winner of the L.A. Clippers and Houston Rockets.
The Chicago Bulls took care of business with Cleveland in Game 1, winning it 99-92. Derrick Rose led the way and Pau Gasol was behind him. Cleveland is without Kevin Love and J.R. Smith. It hurt them. That’s why the Cavaliers lost the game. The L.A. Clippers beat the Houston Rockets 117-101 and they were fresh off their Game 7 victory over San Antonio plus they did win Game 1 with Houston without their star point guard Chris Paul. The Atlanta Hawks bounced back from their Game 1 loss with a Game 2 victory with the Washington Wizards. If the Hawks can withstand a Wizards half-court offense with Marcin Gortat and Nene and play up-tempo basketball, they will have a chance to win the series. Otherwise, a low-post presence will hurt these smaller Hawks players. In Game 1 between the Wizards and the Hawks, the Wizards dominated because they had size and height over Atlanta. The Memphis Grizzlies also bounced back to beat the Golden State Warriors and will go to Memphis with the series tied at one game apiece. In Game 1, the Warriors were playing perfect basketball and in Game 2, the emergence of Mike Conley came back and helped Memphis regain control of the basketball game and the series.
Behind James Harden and Dwight Howard, the Rockets have advanced. Harden’s sharp play making skills and perimeter shooting and Howard’s defense and rebounding has helped the Rockets play smart despite losing Patrick Beverly and Donatas Motiejunas to injuries. Expect a stronger opponent in the second round and the Rockets will be tested still without Beverly and Motiejunas. The play of Josh Smith has helped Houston and they will surely need Smith’s intangibles.
Jameer Nelson has been traded from Dallas to Boston where he will play for a rebuilding team there. Josh Smith’s arrival in Houston suggests that he will have a role there alongside James Harden and Dwight Howard. Smith will help the Rockets with rebounding and defense, although Houston will grow to expect him to hoist three pointers every now and then.