Sunday , Apr , 26 , 2009 Oly Sandor

Are Ron Artest and the blue-collar Houston Rockets destined for playoff success?

Are Ron Artest and the blue-collar Houston Rockets destined for playoff success?Blue-collar muscle could end the heartbreak in Houston.

After years of bitter first round defeats, the Rockets, thanks to a one point win over the Blazers on Sunday evening, hold a commanding 3-1 series lead and are on the verge of advancing to the Western Conference Semi-finals.

Simply put, this new-look Houston side is suited for the playoffs.

Contenders have a lockdown guy. And coach Rick Adelman has the luxury of using two defensive specialists: Ron Artest and Shane Battier. In game four, these two took turns against Brandon Roy. Ron-Ron’s strength slowed Portland’s star, while the CEO (Battier) did a great job playing angles.      

Artest and Battier’s efforts have had a trickle down effect. Power forwards Luis Scola and Carl Landry have produced on both ends of the court. Deadline acquisition Kyle Lowry is a heady point guard, while Chuck Hayes, although undersized, provides infectious hustle.

This group, with Yao Ming leading, have chemistry. Consider that the Rockets won game four despite shooting a measly forty percent from the floor. Instead of getting down about their misses, they simply outworked the Blazers for extra opportunities.

Most importantly, as a team, they defend. In the final minute of Sunday night’s contest, Houston got three key stops before Rudy Fernandez hit a three-pointer. The highlight was Battier and Roy combining for a block-charge combo on Roy.

Immediately following the game, the television cameras zoomed in on Artest and Tracy McGrady congratulating teammates. Slowly, the cameras left the injured T-Mac, who was decked out in a flashy three-piece suit, for the muscular Artest.

The image was ironic. Artest, with all his baggage and in just his first season with the Rockets, will likely win a playoff series –something the talented McGrady has never achieved. Chalk it up as a victory for blue-collar grit.

Is this blue-collar Houston crew destined for playoff success? Why? Why not? Get at us in the comment box below and return to HoopsVibe The Blog for more NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of erimanila.