Rockets Owner Talks Playoffs, Westbrook, Small-Ball

After averaging nearly 58 wins over the past three seasons, Houston is on a slightly more modest 53-win pace in 2019/20. However, after winning eight of their last 10 games, the Rockets are once again in position to claim home-court advantage in the first round of the postseason, having moved up to No. 4 in the Western Conference.

That recent strong play – along with the success of a new-look lineup that leans heavier than ever on small-ball – has Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta expressing confidence about the club’s outlook going forward. Speaking to Kirk Bohls of The Austin American-Statesman, Fertitta said he thinks the Rockets could be the No. 2 seed if not for a handful of hard-luck losses, adding that he’s “not worried about anybody in the West.”

As Fertitta explained, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s counting on the Rockets to make it to the NBA Finals, but he’s confident that the team is capable of beating any Western club in a seven-game series.

“I think Milwaukee is head over heels above everybody else,” Fertitta said. “We just need to get home court for the first and second rounds and see what happens.”

Here are a few more of Fertitta’s thoughts on how the Rockets stack up in the West, the blockbuster trade the team made last summer, and the extreme small-ball look:

On the Western Conference playoff picture:

“None of us fear L.A. (the Lakers) or the Clippers or Denver like we feared Golden State. It’s not like how we were scared of them. We could easily win the West this year or get knocked out in the first round. Both L.A. teams, Denver, Houston, we’re all excellent teams. Just comes down to somebody gets hot and makes a shot. Our chances are as good as they’ve ever been.”

On the Chris Paul/Russell Westbrook trade, and why Westbrook is a better match for James Harden:

“Everything worked out. I think Chris is having a great year at Oklahoma City. It worked out for both (teams). James and Russell came in the league at the same time, and they can talk to each other differently. One can say, ‘Screw you,’ and it’s no big deal. Chris was four years older. Four years in basketball is like a normal 10 to 15 years in business life.”

On the Rockets going all-in on small-ball:

“We basically changed out a guy who’s 6’10” to a guy who’s 6’7″, 6’8″. Are you really that much smaller? It makes the big guy for the other team go out on the perimeter. Did you see Rudy Gobert trying to keep up with Russell? Russell was running him around like crazy. It’s working.”

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36 thoughts on “Rockets Owner Talks Playoffs, Westbrook, Small-Ball

  1. ThePeople'sElbow

    It’s working he says. A 10 game SSS in the regular season is fool’s gold, but go on keep dreaming that shake Fertitta.

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      More like 18 games, they were 7-1 in the ones Capela missed.

          • victorg

            The Rox during Hardens time have always been very capable of great 20 – 32 game stretches … its just in the playoffs were they have fizzled … and its not JUST Harden i mean Gordon has killed us in the Post season in his time here which is why i really would have liked if they would have moved him for Love or Drummond.

            • HoopsR

              He has but he’s also necessary. I used to think Reddick would be better but he’s not big enough. I would keep him and trade for Olynyk.

  2. Buckman

    I feel like Harden-Westbrook-MVPs should get 1st crack at this story and I await his comments.

  3. amk3510

    Thats cute Tilman no one cares if your scared or not. Rockets roster is not winning the west.

    • arc89

      Same owner that spent the last 3 years trying to beat GSW but failed each time. Claimed each time they were better than GSW. Watch him blame the officials again when they lose.

  4. macdaddy96

    Fertitta is a joke. When they’re eliminated from the playoffs again, time to blow it up. Eventually they’ll realize they can never win a championship playing “their style”.

      • victorg

        what does blow it up mean ? trade Harden ? i dont think you can get any value for Harden you would have to take pennies on the dollar for him and that just wouldnt be smart … up until GSW most teams had a slow build towards a ring it would take 1-4 years of tinkering and building

        • Jason Lancaster

          You don’t think Houston gets any value for the best scoring guard in NBA history?

          • victorg

            if the Rockets put Harden on the Trade Block … what could they really get ? seems to me most are pretty happy with their stars … so i just dont see them being able to secure a good haul for him … i mean look at the chump change Det got for Drummond… unless you get NO to give you Ball,Ingram and some picks BUT to me that is literally pennies on the dollar…

  5. miltpappas

    He may not be scared of the Lakers, but he should be scared of the refs who will blow the whistle anytime a Rocket even breathes on Lebron or Davis.

    • HoopsR

      It’s par for the course. I’m assuming every team is going to have to go through that, which is why when the 3s are falling there’s no room for the refs to..modify the gameplay.

    • arc89

      Harden runs into players and gets the call every time. I wouldn’t complain about fouls when Harden is known as getting the most calls in the NBA that should not be called.

    • arc89

      Harden runs into players and gets the call every time. I wouldn’t complain about fouls when Harden is known as getting the most calls in the NBA that should not be called.

      • x%sure

        Funny, complaining about anyone besides Harden, who bases his driving game around drawing fouls. Lebron just complains real actively, but some people pay most attention to the squeeky wheel. Sometimes Lebron’s most explosive move is chasing the ref after a play.

        • HoopsR

          It doesn’t revolve around fouls, other players just can’t handle him. Did Shaq’s game revolve around his FT? No, they just fouled him because other players couldn’t handle him. Same thing, except he actually makes them. Harden isn’t using a magic trick on the Refs or the League, he’s just that good just like Shaq. Can we stop with this talking point.

          • x%sure

            Harden is not using a magic trick, but he does use tricks. For instance he runs one arm between an opponent’s arm an body, pushes through and thows a shot up, making it look like the opponent tried to reach in. The shot makes it look like it’s a shooting foul. There’s a number of tricks like that. Harden has a talent for them. Harden is smart, credit to him. Lebron is not that clever, or doesn’t want to be, or is too emotional.

            I also think what Harden does at the 3pt line is a variation of whar he did in the key at Arizona, and that he was always to succeed based on physical gifts.

            But don’t pretend there’s no tricks available and that Harden is innocent. It will never be put to rest.
            There is no comparison to Shaq, good on Harden.

            • HoopsR

              I completely agree. As long as it is legal I’m all for it. Lebron might not utilize this strategy but Durant sure does, and many do. Are they all guilty as well? Come on.
              I never pretended he doesn’t use tricks, only magic ref fouls that o ly he gets, but those tricks are within the legalities of the game and that’s what makes him innocent. The refs judge the game, we are spectators. That only matters if you care about what others think over the truth. The truth is that he has broken no legalities and everyone has the same opportunity to utilize his techniques. Most can’t, like SC as he attempted to do Harden’s step back and failed. Are you going to deduct point because he’s mastered the gather step to the point that his step backs and euro steps look like travels?
              The shaq point was only to point out that FT don’t undermine anything about his resume. If anything it’s a badge of honor. I agree, good on Harden.

  6. victorg

    hmmm head over heels ? i think he meant head and shoulders above everyone else ?

  7. Buckman

    Houston has a legit shot at a 2 seed but also a legit shot at the 7th seed. They have been on the uptick. with a 5-1 record against playoff teams in the small ball format.

    • HoopsR

      My guess is that they get the 3 seed. There’s going to be a cold stretch at some point and that’ll affect their seeding.

  8. x%sure

    The small linup will have to convince me with playoff success, but that’s not impossible.

  9. jump shot

    Seeds, Small-ball, Capela, fouls, free-throws, Harden, Westbrook, refs, Gordon, Fertitta fertatta, Lakers, Clippers, LeBron…. whatever.

    As long as D’Antoni is the coach it’s gonna end as it always does… with his team losing 4 times in a playoff series.

  10. hoosierhysteria

    This newbie owner should stfu! His only experience is in the kitchen.

  11. harden-westbrook-mvps

    For anyone who hasn’t watched Westbrook this season:

    He attempted 167 threes in his first 35 games this season.

    Over the last 15 games he has only attempted 26 threes.

    He went 8 of 20 from three in February for 40% shooting.

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      Instead of attempting 5 three point shots per game like he was in the first half of the season, Russ is now attempting just 1.7 per game.

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