LOOKING BACK

What did the world look like the last time there was an NBA Finals without Lebron James?

Lebron James has made it to the Finals for eight straight years. Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Well it looks like this year may very well see the end of the Warriors-Cavaliers Finals repeat cycle. While it remains to be seen if the Rockets victory in Game 2 a mere flash in the pan or sign of things is to come, the Cavs look like they’re toast.  If the Cavs do not escape their current 0-2 hole to the Celtics this will be the first time since 2010 that the NBA Finals will not feature LeBron James. For the arithmetically challenged that’s eight straight years. If you include the one Finals trip he had before going to Miami, LeBron has ended his season in the Finals for 60% of his career.  So, with that in mind lets dust off the flux capacitor, hop in the DeLorean and see what life was like the last time an NBA season didn’t end with LeBron in the Finals.

2010 in Houston Sports (Spoiler: It was pretty bad all around)

Houston Rockets

Record: 42-40.

Notes of significance: Traded Tracy McGrady mid-season.

Remember these guys: Aaron Brooks, Chase Buddinger, The Chuck Wagon, Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin.

Houston Astros

Record: 76-86.

Notes of Significance: Traded away Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman.

Remember these guys: Michael Bourn, Carlos Lee, Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, Geoff Blum.

Houston Texans

Record: 6-10.

Notes of Significance: None – Of course not, it’s the Texans.

Remember these guys: Kevin Walter, Amobi Okoye, Antonio Smith, Vonta Leach, Steve Slaton.

Other 2010 Things:

  • Top Billboard Song of 2010 – Tik Tok by Ke$ha.

  • Top Grossing Movie of 2010 – Toy Story 3 (You are a liar if you contend you didn’t at least tear up in this movie).

  • Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

  • The iPad is released.

  • Obama Care Passed.

  • First real-world Bitcoin transaction. Two Pappa Johns pizzas purchased for 10,000 Bitcoin. Today that would be worth about $83,000,000.

  • When the name Harvey was mentioned you either thought of Steve or Dent.

Eight straight years in the finals is a most impressive feat, but if the Warriors make it back this year Steph Curry will already be halfway to that mark, and by the looks of things he could actually meet or exceed it.

 

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Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

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