With their first-round opponent missing their MVP and the frontrunner for a second-round matchup missing their two best players, the Houston Rockets should be feeling very lucky. No eighth seed in recent memory has had this many lucky breaks in such a short time. Maybe that’s why backup point guard Jason Terry is feeling confident enough to guarantee victory in Wednesday’s Game 5 matchup, courtesy of ESPN.
“I’m guaranteeing it,” said the 38-year-old Terry. “If I don’t, then what? It’s a loss, right. I guarantee victory — that’s what it’s going to take. I believe in my group. I know we can get a win here and send this thing back to Houston.”
Terry’s never been one to lack confidence — he got a tattoo of the Larry O’Brien trophy before the Mavericks’ 2010-11 season, which would prove to be prophetic as the Mavs won the title. (He also got a championship-assuming Celtics tattoo after signing with Boston in 2012, which didn’t turn out quite as well.)
This Rockets team, however, is a far cry from that Dallas squad — or even the conference finalists of last season. They undergo excruciatingly long stretches of minimal effort on defense and offense (the latter with the exception of James Harden) and have the appearance of a group of guys who don’t enjoy playing with each other. Steph Curry may be out, but he was also out for the third quarter of Game 4, in which the Warriors laid 41 points on the home Rockets and blew them out once again.
Anything can happen in the NBA, and if the Rockets seize this opportunity to rally around each other in a way they haven’t done all season, they have the talent to make a run past the shorthanded Warriors and Clippers (or the full-strength, but ahead of schedule Blazers). But in order to do so, they’d have to reverse a year’s worth of discontent and inconsistency against a team still laden with talent and hungry to prove they can stay alive long enough for Curry to return and lead them to another title — oh, and they have to do so on the road, in the loudest arena in the league. Terry’s heart is in the right place, but his head is still in last season.