The Houston Rockets are a terrific young team with a lot of potential, but they don’t stand much of a chance upending the Oklahoma City Thunder in the opening round of the playoffs—even if Jeremy Lin were at full strength.
The point guard came out of the game Wednesday night in Houston’s 105-102 Game 2 loss after scoring seven points and dishing out three assists in 20 minutes. According to Adi Joseph of USA Today, the injury that forced his removal was diagnosed as a chest contusion and he is listed as day to day.
The Houston Rockets previously reported it was a shoulder injury, but a chest bruise may be a better sign for the point guard in his hopes to return.
Even if he does manage to play in Game 3, Lin won’t give the Rockets a much better chance of beating Oklahoma City in a seven-game series. He hasn’t exactly been a major impact player through two games, and a 2-0 deficit will be hard to overcome against the best team in the Western Conference.
In Houston’s Game 1 loss, Lin scored just four points on 1-of-7 shooting in 32 minutes, including an 0-of-4 mark from behind the arc. While he looked better in Game 2 before the injury (and Oklahoma City would narrowly avoid defeat), there isn’t much to be hopeful for with a two-game disadvantage against the West’s No. 1 seed.
Lin finished the regular season on a tremendous note, scoring at least 12 points in each of his last nine games. In that span, the 24-year-old dished out eight or more assists five times and limited his turnovers significantly, also posting some surprisingly efficient shooting performances.
But things haven’t gone so well in the playoffs, and Lin isn’t to blame. Granted, he’s largely been a nonfactor through three quarters on the court, but so have a number of reserves coming off Houston’s bench. Things just haven’t come together as the Rockets would have hoped.
Rockets Playoff Production
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Even if Lin comes back in Game 3 and plays well enough to boost Houston to a win at home, the Rockets would still be facing two more games in Chesapeake Energy Arena in the final four contests of the series—a tall order for a team lacking a consistent second scoring option for James Harden.
Anything can happen in the NBA playoffs, but the writing is on the wall for the Rockets. Lin may return close to full strength and in late-season form, and he may help Houston steal a game or two from Oklahoma City in the Toyota Center. It just won’t impact the eventual outcome of the series.
Houston is still a piece or two away from being a legitimate title contender. The Rockets have a lot of talent, but it’s not going to happen this year, and nothing Lin does in the ensuing games will change that.