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Joel Blank: The Warriors are coming. Are Rockets fans ready to step up?

Steph Curry and the Warriors are coming. Patrick Smith/Getty Images

You asked for it, you got it! Toyota Center better be rocking when the Rockets need you the most!

It's the matchup everyone wanted to see ever since the Chris Paul trade. The two teams that everyone wanted in the Western Conference Finals are about to tango. The Rockets have been obsessed with the Golden State Warriors for over a year. Halfway through the season, Daryl Morey came out and admitted that this team was "obsessed" with the champs and built for a matchup with Golden State. The Warriors are the reigning champions and are the team that everybody has marked on their calendar as must see TV. They are the gold standard, pun intended, and it's one thing to pack the house to see them play in the regular season, it’s on another level when it can determine who goes to the Finals. The obsession is now a reality and dreams can come true if the Rockets and their fans can live up to the expectations that they have set for themselves.

Houston played all year to capture home court advantage and have a series deciding contest in their house. They felt like they were evenly matched with Golden State and the difference could be having that Game 7 on the Toyota Center floor instead of at Oracle Arena. With that in mind, they took care of business in the regular season and even took it a step further and assured themselves of home court throughout the NBA Finals by having the best record in the entire league.The time is now to make sure that there is some value in that achievement and Red Nation needs to step up big at the biggest time of the year. That means showing up on time and staying late, while they cheer loud and make sure that the world knows this can be a basketball town too. Texas is known as a football state, and that goes for the city of Houston too. They do a great job supporting the Texans, but have also proven to be a heck of a baseball community as they rocked the roof off of Minute Maid Park during the Astros run to a World Series title. Why then has it taken so long to do the same thing for the hometown hoop team?

So far this postseason, and let's be honest, in the regular season as well, attendance at Rockets games has been anything but stellar. Whether it's traffic, parking, ticket prices, family commitments or other excuses, Houstonians are quick to be on the defensive, but not as quick to jump behind their basketball team and support their efforts to return the community to the days of Clutch City.  I don't wanna hear any of the excuses and believe me, I have heard them all season long as you have called the radio station and tried to defend your actions, or lack thereof? I know the failures of playoffs past have not helped and James Harden has let you down. But that was then, this is now and you could help write the script for the future. I'm not looking for more defensive fans, I'm looking for a solution that puts butts in seats, and does so on time. Maybe a match up with the Warriors is just what the doctor ordered and the inspiration that H-town needed?

Look across the league and all the cities that have a team that participated in this year's playoffs and for the most part you will find a community that is passionate about their hoop squad and fans that are rabid. They are in their seats way before tip off and raucous, creating an environment that makes it difficult for the visiting team to hear, let alone execute a play. Meanwhile in Houston, the regular season laissez-faire  attitude of the fan base has continued over into the first round and a half of the postseason. With Houston one game away from the Conference Finals and likely meeting the Warriors, it's time to put the past behind us and step up to help this team in the biggest series it has faced since they last lost to Golden State in the 2016 West finals. Fans forget that a season full of hard work that earned them this huge edge if it comes down to one final game, can all be lost if this team falters in one of its first three home contests against the "Dubs." This Rockets team did its part by earning the best record and all the accolades that come with it, it's now time for the fan base to do their part and back this team when it needs you the most. I don't care if it's a 7 o'clock game or an 8:30 late night affair, I expect you to be there and be on time. I would love to see a sea of red T shirts on rabid Rockets fans as they welome the squad with the best record in the NBA onto the floor for pre-game warmups, instead of a sea of T shirts stuck on the backs of empty chairs as people continue to dress up like empty seats come tipoff time.

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Should Watson be in the MVP conversation? Composite image by Jack Brame.

The 2020 NFL season has a lot going on. Even if we take the coronavirus out of it, there's still a lot to digest. There are so many great performances being put up, one can make an argument for several players to win league MVP. The quarterback position typically gets more credit than others. If I restrict the argument to quarterbacks only, we're looking at Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, and Aaron Rodgers. Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, and Derrick Henry are the leading contenders at running back. On defense, there really isn't a standout defender. The defense gets no love, but there are several guys in the running for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Deshaun Watson has been putting up numbers that have matched or rivaled some of the top MVP candidates over his last seven games. That stretch has coincided with the firing of head coach/general manager Bill O'Brien. Coincidence? I think not. Taking the reigns off a wild horse can often lead to said horse running free and flourishing! So question: Should Watson be getting league MVP considerations? I think so.

For starters, he's been one of the best players in the league over the course of the last seven games. 18 passing touchdowns and only two interceptions. The only quarterback with a better touchdown to interception ratio over that same span is Mahomes (19 and 2, as opposed to Watson's 18 & 2). Factoring in total season stats, of course Mahomes is doing much better. He's on a better team with a much better coach and general manager. The same could be said for Wilson and Rodgers. Put Watson on any of those teams and their records wouldn't be any worse than what they are now.

The Texans are 4-3 since firing O'Brien. While that isn't a great record, consider the fact they started the season 0-4 and looked like a total disaster. Watson looked like he was caged and couldn't wait to be freed. The team's record could be even better if the defense had a pulse. The proper supporting cast has a lot to do with a player's MVP candidate's chances. Now that one of his favorite weapons, Will Fuller, and the team's best corner, Bradley Roby, are both suspended for the rest of the season by the league for violating the substance abuse/PED policy, things will get much tougher for Watson.

If he continues to put up these cartoon like numbers, I don't see why he wouldn't be in the MVP conversation. He's currently fopurth in passing yards, sixth in completion percentage, tied for fifth in passing touchdowns, eighth in QBR, and third in quarterback rating. Watson is emerging as the star he was projected to be coming into the 2017 draft. I'm not saying Watson deserves to be the league MVP, but he deserves to be in the conversation. His MVP candidacy should be treated like the family gathering hierarchy: once you reach a certain age and/or status, you're no longer resigned to the kiddie table. Now you get to sit with all the adults, engage in their conversations, and gain access to things you couldn't previously. Watson won't win the MVP award, but I strongly believe he could finish top five. Especially if he keeps making lemonade with the lemons he's been given.

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