56-26 (Tom), 54-48 (Gil)
Last Year’s Record
Yao Ming has already been ruined by a combination of Jeff Van Gundy and special assistant coach Patrick Ewing, so bringing in the last coach to get mileage out of a talented big man that can play in the flow of the game, Rick Adelman of Arvydas Sabonis stewardship, isn’t going to help much. Although perhaps Adelman can do something with Tracy McGrady no one else has been able to do: make the other four players on the floor with him NOT look like they want to jump out of their skins and run away from the court until they pass out from exhaustion. Everyone on the Rockets except maybe Shane Battier looks like they’re on the worst date they’ve ever been on, all the time.
This kind of thing sort of worked in the 1990s against other teams that depended on flow and chemistry, kind of like Soviet psychic warfare, but the game this decade is more about pushing certain super-effective moments of playing until the other teams crumple, periods of performance that transcend bad vibes. That said, I think they’ll do better in the regular season because that makes their round one loss to the Clippers that much funnier.
Rejoinder From Gil
I know Rick Adelman coached that Sacramento Kings team that got respectability, but that was a once-in-a-lifetime collection of passing talent. This squad has hands of stone, a top-10 talent who can’t get out of the first round of the playoffs, and a huge player who can’t get up and down the floor. If they’re going to get out and run, it’ll be despite Yao.
Steve Francis is already complaining that he’s not getting playing time, and the season hasn’t even started!
Gratuitous Comics Connection
Houston is the home of ADV Manga, publishers of Cromartie High School.
Gratuitous Pharma Connection
Houston is the third-worst American city for sleep, according to a study sponsored by Sanofi-Aventis, makers of Ambien.
The Bottom Line
They’ve got the talent and the role players to have a nice regular season, but I don’t see them making too much of a jump from last year, since they’ll play worse defense without Van Gundy. –GR