Are the Rockets peaking too soon? The Bulls' peaks and valleys are frustrating for their faithful. And Seth Davis is at the peak of his game. Take a peek at the TrueHoop Network:
Anup Shah of Rockets Buzz: "Remember what was going on with the Rockets a year ago at this time? Yao Ming was riding the sidelines and TMac pranced around like a God while the Rockets were in the midst of a 22-game win streak. They were working their way to the top spot in the Western Conference. Life was good in Houston.
And then the Celtics beat the Rockets. Ended their streak. And the Rockets slowly dropped to 4th in the West. People started doubting whether the team (or the streak for that matter) was legitimate. And when they fell in the first round to Utah, all those questions seemed to be answered.
This year, I'm left wondering if its the same deal. Last night, the Rockets topped the Raptors 107-97 and won their 10th straight home game. Carl Landry led the way with a career high 22 points and Luis Scola had 20 points and 16 boards (yet another double double for him). With the win and the Nuggets loss to the Pistons, the Rockets moved up to 3rd in the Western Conference. That being said, this is all too reminiscent of how well the team gelled right BEFORE the playoffs.
Are the Rockets peaking too early? Will they have the same fire left for the first round where it looks like they'll face Utah, Portland or New Orleans? How much different is it being without TMac this year than being without Yao last year? And the million dollar question: Will they get out of the first round?
It just scares me to declare this team a good team until they actually prove it when it matters."
Matt McHale of By the Horns: "Beat the Nuggets at the United Center, fall to the Pacers at Conseco Field House. Defeat the Magic at home, lose to the Nets and Wizards on the road. Overcome the Rockets in Chicago, get overrun by the Bobcats in Charlotte.
See a pattern here?
The Bulls have developed a tendency to rock it at home and then play poorly when away, and they were truly terrible in last night's 96-80 road loss to the Bobcats. They couldn't shoot (39 percent), couldn't defend (the 'Cats connected about 49 percent of their field goals), couldn't hold onto the ball (18 turnovers), and couldn't seem to grasp that they were facing a team that's suddenly competing for the same playoff spot they're looking up at with hungry eyes. Hungry when they're playing at home, that is.
Young teams struggle on the road. I get that. The Atlanta Hawks pull the same Jekyll and Hyde routine. But Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich are veterans now, and John Salmons and Brad Miller are 29 and 32, respectively. So we have guys who should know when it's time to play with a sense of urgency."
Rob Mahoney of Hardwood Paroxysm: "Nelson has tapped into the unconscious and utilized its most prized weaponry. Maybe that makes him both a visionary and completely bonkers. But don't pretend that the thought hasn't crossed your mind. When you see a team with Anthony Randolph, Anthony Morrow, Brandan Wright, and Marco Belinelli sitting around twiddling their thumbs, the natural instinct is to find a way to get them some playing time. One problem: Stephen Jackson, Jamal Crawford, and Corey Maggette are pretty well-paid and proven, veteran roadblocks.
I wouldn't say that Nelson's plan is 'crazy enough to work,' because what 'works' in the conventional sense and what 'works' in this type of framework aren't exactly similar. Nellie is sitting at the control panel and pressing buttons just to see if one of them causes the planet to explode. Why would it matter if he accidentally turns the fan on?
I doubt very much that there is some grandiose, progressive goal in mind. Nelson's just trying to appraise the assets he has in front of them. But the uproar over these arbitrary benchings tells me two things: One, that no other coach would do this, and two, that it was something that was on all of our minds anyway. In Randolph we trust."
THE FINAL WORD
Hoopinion: An insightful review of Seth Davis' new book on the 1979 NCAA Championship game.
Celtics Hub: The Celtics roster, mythologically speaking.
Valley of the Suns: Tempo, Tempo, Tempo.
(Photos by Bill Baptist, Brock Williams-Smith, Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)