One of the favorites in the Western Conference this NBA season is the Houston Rockets. After the acquisition of Russell Westbrook, head coach Mike D’Antoni had little to no reason to fail. However, a lot of people have forgotten that D’Antoni is not exactly great at the defensive end. And it appears that is starting to show.

There is no question that the Rockets are oozing with firepower. Westbrook and James Harden are proven offensive guns. But unless Houston finds a way to stop opposing teams to score, the production is rendered useless. Now, there is a growing belief that D’Antoni could end up getting axed. His status with the Rockets has been raised. Critics feel he will be the first coach to be fired this NBA season, reported.

“Several head and assistant coaches around the league had already tabbed D’Antoni as the most likely to be the first fired in the NBA this season, but an effort like the one put forth against the Heat was unexpected.”

In the NBA offseason, D’Antoni and the Rockets failed to come to agree on a contract extension. According to the Houston Chronicle, D’Antoni would be paid $2.5 million if the team failed to make the playoffs or fired during the current season. If this happens, he would not get the whole $5 million – the value of the one-year contract extension. Since he did not agree to the extension, the 68-year-old will earn $4.5 million this 2019-20 season based on his old contract.

The Rockets are uncharacteristically at 9th place of the Western Conference with an even 3-3 card. Seeing how pundits saw them as a legit contender, the performance does raise eyebrows. Their offensive efficiency is on cue and ranked third in the league. However, they are next to last in defensive efficiency allowing opponents to score 127 points a game.

D’Antoni’s ability to coach defensively is something that has been raised in the past. When he coached the Phoenix Suns, he always paled on the defensive end. It was no different as well when he coached the Lakers.

While it is too early, his fate could be sealed with a couple of more games. They bounced back with a 107-100 win over the Memphis Grizzlies Monday. Up next will be the injury-plagued Golden State Warriors, a game they are likely to win easily. They host the Dub on Nov. 6 starting at 7:30 p.m. EST.

Mike D'Antonio in 2013 with L.A. Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni reacts during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Feb. 24, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Mike Stone