Rockets Chemistry Experiment Seems to Be Working
The Rockets finally made it back home from a trip to Asia last week that saw them twice dismantle the Indiana Pacers, a team that took the World Champion Miami Heat to the brink of elimination in last year's Eastern Conference playoffs. This was without last year's starting center, Omer Asik, who has been battling a calf strain.
Photo by Jeff Balke Dwight Howard answers questions during Rockets Media Day 2013.
What has been notable about the first few preseason games besides the non-issue juggling of the starting point guard position is how comfortable the Rockets seem to be. They turn the ball over a lot, but that is to be expected given the pace at which they play. But they also play with a fair amount of consistency for a team that has integrated someone as important as Dwight Howard, never mind the increased minutes for Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones or the emergence of free agent forward Omri Casspi.
Most teams that have undergone such a dramatic change would struggle early and those struggles would no doubt continue for some time, but this team looks almost fluid and the regular season is still two weeks away.
There is still the significant question of Asik. Will he simply be Howard's backup or will the two be able to log significant minutes on the floor together. Then there are McHale's smaller lineups with both Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley getting time as a backcourt tandem. Finally, how will all this affect the defense, something the Rockets struggled with all of last season, especially when Asik was on the bench?
The good news is that the core of this team, which is clearly James Harden, Howard, Chandler Parsons, Lin and Beverley, appears to be clicking. Much of that is likely owed to the time they spent hanging out and playing together over the summer -- more of that next week -- but it also speaks to their complementary talents and notable individual improvements from last season.