Rooting In opposition to James Harden Makes NBA Playoffs Enjoyable

The NBA Playoffs have arrived, and actually, I’m nonetheless getting used to this complete “being irrelevant in April and May” factor, as a Houston Rockets fan. It’s now two consecutive postseasons the place the Rockets haven’t solely been a whole afterthought, however they only completed (once more) with the worst report in basketball.

At least there may be hope, although. Jalen Green was scintillating through the remaining few weeks of the common season (in six of his remaining seven video games, he eclipsed the 30 level mark), Alperen Sengun appears to be like like he could possibly be an actual participant, and Kevin Porter, Jr. had nearly as many good nights down the stretch as Jalen Green did. That’s enjoyable!

But dammit, I’m a basketball fan, and I would like one thing to root for in these NBA playoffs. Sure, I might simply go forward and fabricate causes to root for this crew or that crew on an evening to nighttime foundation, by way of the magic of sports activities wagering, however that will get costly. (NOTE: NBA basketball betting is treacherous, children.) Fortunately, the Rockets have traded sufficient gamers to different groups over the past three or 4 years, to the place there are former Rockets on nearly each playoff crew. Thus, many rooting pursuits exist.

Here are the playoff matchups, all of that are already underway over the weekend:

So let’s do that — let’s energy rank the groups within the playoff primarily based on the uncooked, absolute worth of the emotion of rooting for or towards mentioned crew, we could? First, let’s get some home cleansing out of the best way. Let’s get rid of the groups that both haven’t any former Rockets (or no former Rockets about whom we care), with the caveat that there are SO many former Rockets across the league, if I missed one or two fringe guys, forgive me:

NO FORMER ROCKETS: Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks

New Orleans Pelicans: GARY CLARK
Golden State Warriors: GARY PAYTON II (a Rockets coaching camp physique, at one time)
Memphis Grizzlies: DeANTHONY MELTON (former Rockets second spherical choose)

OK, now for the enjoyable half, the Rocket Fan Rooting Interest rankings … right here we go:

10. Rooting FOR Brooklyn nets PG GORAN DRAGIC
Remember again earlier than the Harden Era, when Dragic was a promising younger guard for the Rockets? He left and went on to change into a excessive stage performer for the Suns, and is now a veteran, journeyman sort, however we nonetheless love him! Only drawback is that rooting for Dragic means you are additionally rooting for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. THAT is a mitigating issue, pals.

Yeah, I do know, he was solely a Rocket for half of this season, however each time he performed, it usually coincided with Alperen Sengun being glued to the bench, and I’ve responsible anyone for that. In this train, it is Theis!

Unfortunately, these two likable former Rockets are unlikely to determine prominently into the following spherical for the Hawks, as Capela left Friday’s play-in win over Cleveland with a nasty knee harm, and Williams is a bit participant for the Hawks.

7. Rooting FOR Toronto SG ARMONI BROOKS
Brooks is a former Rocket and a former UH Coog, so we love him. He additionally has a silky, clean bounce shot. It’a about as fringe a cause to root as you could find, however when you’ll be able to rep the 713, you simply do it.

6. Slightly Rooting AGAINST Utah DF DANUEL HOUSE
On the one hand, Danuel House is a enjoyable, likable individual. On the opposite hand, House sneaking round with a girl within the COVID bubble in 2020 put him out of the Lakers playoff collection that season, which the Rockets finally misplaced. On the third hand, rooting for House means rooting for the Jazz. No thanks!

I can not consider I’m in a spot the place I truly am excited to root for Boogie Cousins and Austin Rivers — NEVER would have thought that’d be the case like 4 years in the past — however I’m! Plus, they play the hated Warriors! I feel the Warriors win in 5 video games, however I’m anxious to root towards it.

4. Rooting FOR Miami PG KYLE LOWRY and C P.J. TUCKER (however it’s sophisticated with SG VICTOR OLADIPO)
On the one hand, Kyle Lowry and P.J. Tucker are two of my favourite Rocket avenue fighters of all time. On the opposite hand, Victor Oladipo was washed up, and a bit turd-ish as a Rocket. Advantage, Lowry and Tucker!

3. Rooting FOR Minnesota PG PAT BEVERLEY
If you want any extra inspiration than simply the candy reminiscences of Patrick Beverley agitating each Rocket opponent, watch this video of the Timberwolves’ locker room after their play in win over the Clippers:

2. Rooting FOR Phoenix PG CHRIS PAUL
Ok, now it will get deep — the rooting curiosity spawned by essentially the most sophisticated relationship in current Rockets’ historical past, the wedding of James Harden and Chris Paul. Back in 2017, these have been the blissful instances, when Harden was forcing the problem to carry Paul to Houston in change for just about the Rockets’ complete roster apart from himself and Eric Gordon. Then after simply two seasons, the wedding ended, and Harden pressured one of many worst trades within the historical past of the crew — Paul and a number of first spherical picks to OKC for Russell Westbrook, making a  marriage with Harden that was much more poisonous than the one he had with Paul. Since the commerce, Westbrook and Harden have every performed for 2 groups in two seasons, with not so nice outcomes, and Paul has established himself as an MVP candidate. That’s simple to root for.

On the flip aspect, in case you can carry your self to do something BUT root vehemently towards a participant who’s pressured his manner out of two groups in two years, all whereas getting his manner at each flip, and partying himself into the cardiovascular situation of a center aged suburban dad within the offseason, nicely, you are a greater individual than I’m, I suppose.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, comply with him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at fb.com/SeanTPendergast.

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