The Houston Rockets could challenge the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference because of subtraction not addition.
Usually, when a team is on the cusp of winning a championship, they add a player or two to get them over the hump. Such was the case with the Detroit Pistons in the late 1980's when they traded for Mark Aguirre and low and behold, they finally beat the Boston Celtics.
But the Rockets are doing it differently. They lost Tracey McGrady for the season, they traded away Rafer Alston, but they are playing better now than they have all season. Why? Because they made the brilliant move of starting Ron Artest at guard.
Artest can now play man to man against the opposing team's best guard. Artest is also big enough to take those smaller guards to the hole when getting position on the blocks. Finally, Artest is still a terrific rebounder who can muscle his way into the paint past those guards.
With Artest at guard, the Rockets can start one of their better defensive players in Shane Battier. Battier concentrates solely on shutting down the opposing teams best front court player, Artest shuts down the opposing teams best guard, the Rockets use the entire 24 second clock and bore the pants off of their opponents for victories.
Hey, it's been working. It's been working so well that I believe Houston has a legitimate shot in the Western Conference.
Read my NBA Power Rankings list for this week in the BetUS Locker Room and then start thinking about betting on the Rockets.