Staff Writer: Ryan Ward
Ever since Hakeem Olajuwon retired from the Houston Rockets back in the 90s, the team that dominated while Michael Jordan was taking a break to play baseball by winning two straight titles, has been trying to get back to title contender status in the NBA.
Unfortunately, even though the Houston Rockets had big name players like Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, they have been unable to do anything, but lose in the early in the playoffs.
Before last season, the Houston Rockets had lost in consecutive years in the first round of the playoffs a lot of the blame went directly to Tracy McGrady as everyone looked at him like the leader. Well, the injuries though it up a McGrady’s body and the Rockets decided it was time to move on and traded him to the New York Knicks this season before the NBA trade deadline on February 18th.
This trade in the works or at least a trade involving Tracy McGrady ever since the NBA season have started this year, but Houston have been unable to find a team willing to take on McGrady’s $23 million dollar expiring contract. Fortunately, the Knicks were willing to do such a thing pulled the trigger of a trade which ultimately brought Kevin Martin from the Sacramento Kings to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Carl Landry and Tracy McGrady.
Since the trade the Houston Rockets have looked pretty impressive, but they are still the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs. As always in the Western Conference is a competitive race come playoff time as are so many good teams and only eight spots for the postseason.
At the bottom half you have the Portland Trail Blazers at the eighth spot and the Memphis Grizzlies and the Houston Rockets fighting to knock off Brandon Roy and company before the end of the NBA regular season.
As of right now, the Houston Rockets have gone ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies in the race for the final spot in the Western Conference, but are still five games behind the Portland Trail Blazers.
Their only 14 games left in the NBA regular season for the Houston Rockets which is a much to make up five games and clinch the final spot in the Western Conference, but they have won seven of their last 10 games and it could be possible to catch up to the Portland Trail Blazers if they keep playing solid basketball.
Realistically though, I can’t see the Portland Trail Blazers struggling enough to where they would give the Houston Rockets a chance to close the gap before the 14 games is over.
The Blazers may have been dealing with injuries all season long to Greg Oden, Brandon Roy and a few other key players, but they are a five-game winning streak right now and looking pretty good heading into the end of the NBA regular season which leads me to believe that no intentions of giving up that eighth spot and will most likely head into the playoffs to face the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.