Last season, the Houston Rockets finished with the best record in the Western Conference and almost eliminated the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors in the conference finals. If Chris Paul didn’t suffer an injury, most people believed that the Rockets would be the one heading to the NBA Finals and crowned as the 2018 NBA champions.
Before the 2018-19 NBA season officially started, the Rockets emerged as the favorite NBA team to challenge the Warriors for Western Conference supremacy. Unfortunately, as of now, the Rockets are not living up to expectations and are not consistent on both ends of the floor. Rockets small forward Carmelo Anthony said that they are all aware of their inconsistencies, but he believes the issues on their team are being exaggerated because of the high expectations on them this season.
“I think it’s over-amplified when it’s the team that has so much expectations,” Anthony said, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “Regardless of it’s at the beginning of the season, regardless of it’s at the end of the season, a team that has this much expectation to not only get to the playoffs, but win a championship, of course, this will always be magnified times 100.”
It is easy to point out the things that are contributing to the Rockets’ struggle. In their first five games in the 2018-19 NBA season, the Rockets are already feeling the effect of the departure of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in the recent free agency. Also, some of their key players, like James Harden and James Ennis, are dealing with injuries, while Chris Paul was suspended for two games after engaging in a fist fight with Rajon Rondo in their recent game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Having new faces on their roster, Rockets Head Coach Mike D’Antoni is yet to determine the right combination that works best for their team. After using him as a backup power forward, D’Antoni has tried using Carmelo Anthony as his starting small forward against the Los Angeles Clippers. Anthony admitted that most of the team are having a hard time making adjustments with the lineup changes, but he strongly believes that the Rockets will find a way to build good chemistry and end their struggle.
“This is a learning process for everybody,” Anthony said. “This is an experiment for everybody. We’ve been at this for four, five weeks now. We’re still working things out.”
On Tuesday night, the Rockets are set to face the Portland Trail Blazers at Toyota Center.