On the verge of elimination, it seems the Houston Rockets are about to end another season having fell short of expectations.
Considering all the moves Daryl Morey and team management made last summer and this past offseason, it's fair to say the Rockets threw all their remaining chips on the table to maximize their opportunity to win now.
Unfortunately, even with Russell Westbrook and a system catered to their playstyle, Houston hasn't been able to gain much air time in these playoffs and many are calling them frauds.
On TNT's "Inside The NBA," famous analyst Charles Barkley noted the similarity between the Rockets and another woefully disappointing team from across the other conference...
"They're the Milwaukee Bucks of the West. They small ball can work during the regular season and the way the Milwaukee Bucks play offense, it can work during the regular season. But at some point, you're playing against the elite teams, elite coaches, in the playoffs.
I just think over a 7-game series, you gonna run against a LeBron or Anthony Davis. Like, let's say you win this series -- you're going to play against Kawhi and Paul George, Montrezl Harrell, Zubac. So can you win three series playing that small ball? I don't think you can, I think it's physically demanding on PJ, Pj is getting beat to death every night. When you're at a disadvantage every night, it's hard to play basketball."
The NBA has been getting smaller and smaller, but at what point do teams draw the line? How small is too small?
While the answers will always vary, we might be seeing what happens when teams neglect the value of inside play (rebounding, shot-blocking, post play, etc.)
The Bucks and Rockets have done a great job surrounding their stars with shooters, but both teams are lacking frontcourt depth. Both teams have also failed to secure a Championship, despite fantastic regular-season performances.
Is there a correlation there? Barkley seems to think so, and I bet he's not the only one.