Jeremy Lin Houston Rockets
Jeremy Lin has returned to his early-season form at the most critical time of the season for Houston. Reuters

In recent games, Jeremy Lin has not performed up to the level in which he did at the beginning of the 2013-2014 season. An injury that the point guard is battling might be to blame.

Lin played in the Houston Rockets’ game against the Miami Heat on Tuesday, in spite of a back ailment. He was a game-time decision, but ended up suiting up and scoring seven points.

Even though he’s been on the court, Lin’s numbers indicate that the injury could be giving him trouble. He only played 15 minutes against Miami, tying his season-low for playing time. The previous two contests saw him on the court for just 36 total minutes. Lin is averaging 29.7 minutes per game on the year.

The injury isn’t a new one for Lin. He dealt with back spasms in December, missing four games. Shortly before that, Lin sat for six straight games with a knee sprain. Since Lin suffered from the initial back injury, his production has noticeably decreased.

After failing to live up to the hype that surrounded him in his first year with the Rockets, Lin began this season by playing his best basketball since joining Houston. In November, the 25-year-old averaged 15.3 points per game on 49.3 percent field goal shooting. As he shuffled between the bench and the starting lineup, Lin appeared to finally find his role with the Rockets as a scoring guard.

Since his return from the back spasms on Dec. 23, Lin has not been the same player. In January, his points per game average dropped to 12.1, while he shot 43 percent from the field. Both of those numbers dipped even more in February, when he shot less than 41 percent from the field, and failed to register a double-digit scoring average.

The change in Lin’s numbers could just be a coincidence, but there’s a good chance that he won’t be able to play like he did at the beginning of the season, until he fully heals. The best course of action might be for Houston to sit Lin and make sure he’s ready for the team’s playoff run.

Through 60 games, the Rockets are one of the favorites to win the NBA Finals. They have the third-best record in the West and are not in danger of missing the postseason. As they battle the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers for a high seed, it would be highly unlikely for them to finish worse than fifth in the conference.

Since Jan. 28, the Rockets lead the NBA with a 12-2 record. Pairing a healthy Lin with the likes of Dwight Howard, James Harden and Chandler Parsons could help the organization claim its first championship in 19 years.