Jeremy Lin's Dominant Stretch Must Continue into Playoffs for Rockets to Win

Alex KayCorrespondent IApril 9, 2013

Apr 6, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin (7) controls the ball in the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 132-114. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Spor

Jeremy Lin is playing some of his best basketball of the 2012-13 campaign at the right time.

Over the past five games, the Houston Rockets superstar has averaged 18.8 points on 49.3 percent field-goal shooting and 45.5 percent on three-point attempts, while also contributing 8.0 assists and 2.0 rebounds.

No coincidence, the Rockets are 4-1 over that stretch, with their sole loss coming on the tail end of a back-to-back on the road against a feisty Denver Nuggets opponent. Even in that contest, Lin was still 8-of-15 for 23 points and dished eight dimes.

It’s a great sign for Houston, as the team is currently sitting at 43-34 and looking to possibly jump the Golden State Warriors for the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. The organization is extremely close to locking up its first playoff appearance since 2009, and it’s due in no small part to Lin’s contributions.

On the season, the 24-year-old has averaged a stout 13.2 points, 6.1 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. However, he found his way into coach Kevin McHale’s doghouse earlier this year and spent extended periods of time on the bench.

Lin also slumped for a period in February and March, but has righted the ship and looks to have the hot hand this spring.

With those troubles behind the Taiwanese-American superstar, he can continue logging significant minutes and finish guiding his squad into the postseason.

Once there, Lin will need to keep up this great stretch of play if the Rockets are going to be a dark-horse contender and advance outside of the first round.

Regardless of whether Houston nabs the No. 6, 7 or 8 seed in the Western Conference, it will have a tough draw to open things up.

They will likely be facing either San Antonio or Oklahoma City if they get one of the lower two, or squaring off with Denver, the Clippers or Memphis as the No. 6.

Clearly, the higher seed would be the better option, but Houston isn't winning a series against anyone unless Lin steps up and puts together some of his best outings as a member of the organization.

This young franchise has plenty of time and room to grow into a real contender, but it could make some initial headroom and gain invaluable experience by banding together behind Lin and James Harden to win a playoff series in 2013.