I thought the headline was some early April Fools joke at first, but then it was confirmed with a Rockets press conference. Yao Ming has a stress fracture in his foot and is out for the remainder of the season and playoffs. A devastating blow to the hottest team in the NBA, to say the least.
I’m not sure if the Rockets can make the playoffs without Yao, but even if they do, they don’t have a championship team without the Great Wall in the middle. They will be able to play at a faster pace – they’ll have to – but Yao is so efficient in terms of FG% and FT% that they might lose close games that they’ve been winning lately. The Rockets will become a perimeter team that will be potent, but not as consistent as the team has been the last couple of months.
It’ll be interesting to see how coach Adelman changes up the starting lineup and bench rotation without Yao. I doubt 55 year old Dikembe Mutombo will start as he’s been sitting on the bench for months, but he’ll have to get some minutes against some of the dominant big men the Rockets face.
Here goes nothing…