Rockets fans we find ourselves yet again at another Opening Night. Every year, especially after last year, there is doubt as to how far this team can go. Speculation about Yao’s health, whether Martin and Yao will reach there full potential together, how Brooks will respond to his Most Improved Player year, surrounds the “scrappy” squad out of Houston.
I don’t know about you but for me NBA opening night feels like Christmas Day, and the best present is a nationally televised game on TNT. Not even the probable Rockets bashing by Charles Barkley tonight will ruin my mood. What will ruin my mood is a blowout loss to the Lakers at Staples Center, which in reality is a great possibility.
Even though the Rockets have played hard against the Lakers in the past (i.e. 2009 Playoffs), Houston has lost seven of its last eight regular season contest against the defending champs. L.A. boasts an impressive .645 winning percentage in season openers (40-22), which is the highest in the NBA, BUT their last loss in a season opener was to the Rockets in 2007.
If the Rockets are to shock the world on a national stage, Aaron Brooks and Yao Ming will have to be the guys to do it. Derek Fisher has no answer against the speedy point guard out of Oregon. Brooks averaged 23 points in four games against the Lakers last season. Yao also boasts an impressive average of 22.1 career points per game against L.A. (his best vs. any Western Conference opponent). He will need to make the most of his 24 minutes of play tonight. Kobe is going to get his fair share of looks as he always does. His career average in season openers is 27.7 points per game, the best among active players.
While there is always doubt and speculation, Rockets fans should set their hopes high this year. As I have said before, anything worse than the sixth seed in the West is a disappointment. This roster has enough talent to get to the Western Conference Finals. As any fan knows though, what looks good on paper doesn’t always translate to what is good on the court/field (take your Dallas Cowboys for instance). If you truly do Trust in Morey, then find solace in what he told Bill Simmons via Twitter last week: “We don’t need a trade, we are going to surprise NBA.”