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The Daily Blast – April 8, 2013

McHale’s Future – Coupled with the Rockets appearance and subsequent domination of the Trailblazers on ESPN this weekend, Beckley Mason (ESPN) wrote one heck of a piece on how the Rockets came to be one of the most promising teams in the league. Some of the most insightful stuff revolves around McHale. While the coach has gotten a lot of criticism for his in-came play calling, it looks like that’s not where the organization feels like a head coach makes the biggest impact:

Despite these accomplishments, McHale and his assistants have received little public credit for their relatively hands-off approach. It’s an issue of perception. McHale’s effectiveness comes almost as much from what he’s not doing during games as it does from what he accomplishes in practice. . .

. . .For McHale, the trick has been to let go of his coach’s instinct to control the minutiae, to make peace with a style that requires the organization, from top to bottom, to be comfortable with extremes. With Morey’s support and a roster designed to play a specific way, McHale learned to stop worrying and love the 3-pointer.

Morey knows how valuable it is that McHale can translate these concepts into action, and he’s “frustrated” at the lack of recognition.

“I keep seeing all these lists for coach of the year without his name on them,” says Morey, “and I don’t understand.”

On the other hand, McHale was mentioned in the Weekend Dime as one of a whopping 17 coaches who could be on the way out this summer. Still, all signals are that if he stops coaching, it will be on his own terms:

The Rockets have been included in this discussion only because of the inevitable questions about Kevin McHale’s interest in coaching onward after the unspeakable personal tragedy he and his family have been confronted with all season in the wake of daughter Sasha’s passing in November.

But sources say McHale, within team circles, has quietly let it be known that he’s planning to stay in the game. Which surely comes as welcome news to Rockets owner Les Alexander, who is said to be a huge McHale fan.

“Coach McHale 4 Coach of the Year,” Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted Friday, lauding McHale for his role in getting such a young team — albeit transformed by the late October arrival of James Harden — to the playoffs.

Beverlove – Patrick Beverly gets some love from Brian Schroeder in Hardwood Paroxysm’s Fringe Events column:

So what kind of NBA player is Patrick Beverley? Per 36 minutes, he’s averaging 11.6 points, 6.3 assists, 5.5 rebounds (!), 2.0 steals and 1 block a game. He’s shooting .409 from the field, .388 from three and .811 from the line. He’s a serviceable, if streaky shooter and occasionally flashy playmaker. Defensively, he’s a bit of a gambler, but a successful one, as his high steal rate attests to. He’s arguably one of the best point guard rebounders in the NBA already, and his .545 TS% is much higher than his offensive profile would suggest. Perhaps most importantly, his net rating is third on the Rockets this season, after James Harden and the rarely seen Tim Ohlbrecht. Essentially, he’s solid across the board, with intermittent flashes of brilliance. The prototypical backup point guard in today’s NBA.

Harden Week – The week of celebration for the Beard over at Hickory-High wrapped up this weekend, with two powerful posts about our Euro-stepping hero. First, Jacob Greenberg looks at Harden’s rise in status as a star in the regular season, now facing added scrutiny as the playoffs loom:

For all of his strengths, Kevin Love has yet to take part in this rite of spring.  Kyrie Irving has yet to experience it as well. It is reserved for few, the true superstars.  This is cause for jubilant celebration, for unbridled euphoria.  And far be it from me to take that away from Harden, his teammates, or his fans.But it is a moment of great concern as well.  Like the realization that a player is a superstar, the first playoff appearance produces more questions than answers, casting long shadows over surefire certainties.  You see, once a superstar rises to the challenge, and carries themselves and their team to the playoffs, a new set of feats must be accomplished; new expectations must be realized.  With as few as four games, and as many as 28 games to play in the limited tournament, every win and every loss is magnified, dissected, and overanalyzed.  Suddenly there’s a new goal, for both the short and long term: a championship.

Then Michael Shagrin examines Harden’s rise through the lens of Morey’s career, with a bold comparison:

Daryl Morey is the Moses of the NBA advanced statistics community. For those unfamiliar with Exodus, God looked down upon the plight of the enslaved Jewish people and beset their Egyptian rulers with His plagues. The Pharaoh responded by ending their servitude and the Jewish people, with a mixture of ecstasy and restlessness, hustled out of Egypt. But the Pharaoh changed his mind as the Jewish caravan approached the Red Sea, trapping the Jewish people between his army and the iconic body of water. When God parted the Red Sea allowing the Jews to escape the Pharaoh, they were ultimately denied the opportunity to celebrate their triumph, even as the Pharaoh’s army drowned in the sea behind them. Lying directly in front of Moses and his followers was desert. Forty years of desert.

A prototypical Jewish irony is that Moses never made it to the Promised Land, dying within sight of the Land of Milk and Honey.

Houston still hasn’t clinched its playoff spot, and the team is several free agents short of a contender. Let’s hope the Mosaic comparison falls short.

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About the author: John Eby got on the Rockets bandwagon in 1994 and never got off. He is a public relations guy and recovering TV journalist living in South Carolina.

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