19 And Counting
So just how good are these Houston Rockets? Well, after last night’s victory over the hapless Nets from New Jersey, the Rockets tied the 1999-2000 Lakers with 19 wins in a row—the third longest NBA winning streak ever—and are just one game from catching the 70-71 Milwaukee Bucks. The longest NBA winning streak is owned by the Jerry West/Wilt Chamberlain led 71-72 Lakers, who won 33 straight.
Now that they’ve climbed the NBA record books and proved they are still a formidable team without Yao Ming (seven-in-a-row since Yao’s injury), the question remains: How good are these Tracy McGrady-led Rockets? Can they honestly make a run to the Western Conference Finals and perhaps beyond? Or are the Rockets the beneficiary of some weak competition; teams that helped bolster their gaudy run?
When you consider the streak-within-the-streak, the answers become somewhat clearer: Not only was the Nets win the Rockets’ 19th-straight, it was also their 10th straight victory by double digits, another record-tying performance. If you take a closer look at the teams the Rockets have beaten during their run, you’ll see it’s not all cupcakes and bottom-of-the-barrel teams.
Besides, even if Houston’s schedule was somehow easier, Head Coach Rick Adelman feels his team’s accomplishments should be noted:
“You know what?” he said. “Everybody in this league plays the same schedule. If it’s that easy, why hasn’t somebody else done it? I don’t see the problem saying, ‘You know? That’s pretty remarkable what they’ve done.’”
During their 19-0 run, the Rockets have wins over the following playoff teams:
Cleveland Cavaliers (twice)
New Orleans Hornets (twice)
Dallas Mavericks (albeit, without Nowitzki)
Portland Trail Blazers
Golden State Warriors
Denver Nuggets (if you are counting playoff bubble teams)
Of course, you’ve probably noticed a lack of San Antonio and the Lakers on the Rockets’ list of victims. However, worry not; Houston plays the Lakers this upcoming Sunday followed by Boston on Tuesday. Following that two-game stretch, the Rockets play New Orleans, Golden State and Phoenix. If they come out of this portion of their schedule with their winning streak intact, it’s time to start talking about them as NBA Finals-worthy.
It’ll also be time to put one Tracy McGrady squarely in the MVP discussion, much to the chagrin of Kobe and Lebron supporters everywhere.