Houston Rockets vs Portland Trailblazers: Some thoughts about the benches, Harden’s defense, and adjustments

First, the benches

Click for a full-sized, interactive version

Click for a full-sized, interactive version

At the end of the regular season, the Portland Trailblazers was the most bench-allergic team in the league. Portland played its bench 29.55% of the time, or dead last in the league. I’ve noted that, given the bench data, the Golden State Warriors and Trailblazers are in precarious states because they both play their benches very little, and their benches aren’t very good. One injury to an overworked starter portended disaster. One Andrew Bogut injury later, I feel pretty proud of my prediction (though bad for the Warriors). And while the Blazers might not be injured, they are most definitely tired. Take a look at Portland’s field goal attempts and their opponents’ over the course of the season.

Portland The Blazers accelerated their pace through January, but have played significantly more slowly since. Their opponents, who were once being run off the court to the tune of four fewer field goal attempts per game in January, have now turned the tables and are out running the Blazers. Think the Blazers lack of bench utilization has something to do with these trends?

In any other situation, the Blazers would be in position to be out run/out lasted in the playoffs. However, it just so happens that their opponent under-utilizes their bench almost as much. Houston played its bench 31.15% of the time, or 3rd to last (the Clippers are 2nd to last). The difference though, as it has been all year, is that Houston’s bench is actually quite good, whereas Portland’s is not. Houston’s bench has a net rating of +3 per 100 possessions, good enough for 5th in the league, behind the Spurs, Thunder, Mavs, and Heat. Portland’s bench has a net rating of -1.9 per 100 possessions, well below the league average of -0.95.

I’ve gone on record as saying I believe the Rockets need to utilize their bench more given how good it is compared to the every other team’s and the rest it would afford the starters. After injury scares to just about every Rocket, particularly Beverley, Howard, and Parsons, I’m continuously flummoxed by the Rockets reluctance to play their bench. If game one between these two teams is any indication, whoever makes it out of the series will be too gassed to put up much resistance next round. Take a look at this chart.

RP

This chart shows the percentage of a team’s minutes played by the team’s bench, both during the regular season and the playoffs (only playoff teams). For Houston and Portland this year, the playoffs minutes are just based upon one game, an admittedly small sample but one that’s pretty aligned with their regular season trends. As you can see, both teams are setting a new [low] bar when it comes to using their benches. This is even more striking considering that four players were in foul trouble the whole game before eventually fouling out. Here’s another chart.

DifferenceThis chart shows the percentage difference in bench usage between regular season and playoffs (regular season minutes – playoff minutes / regular season minutes). The general trend certainly seems to be tilting towards using bench players less and less, and once again Houston and Portland are running far ahead of the pack, using their benches over 18% and 21% less, respectively, than in the regular season. In other words, these two teams use their benches less than almost everyone else, and in the playoffs have decreased their bench minutes more than everyone else. This series is likely going 6-7 games. The likely opponent for the victor is the Spurs, who led the league in bench usage. None of this bodes well.

Harden’s defense

James Harden has lately received quite a bit of criticism regarding his lackluster defense, most of it deserved. A now infamous Youtube video shows him either swatting aimlessly at an opponent who has driven by him, or slowly wandering into the paint (but not leaving it) after an opponent has cut across the floor and is in position for an open jump shot.

ESPN’s recap of game 1 alluded to a stat that surprised me a bit, so I double checked to verify its veracity. Out of 160 players who have played at least 50 games and at least 25 minutes per game, James Harden ranks 159th in distance traveled per 48 minutes at 2.9 miles, just barely ahead of the less-than-spry Paul Pierce. In comparison, his backcourt teammate, the energetic Pat Beverley, ranks 8th at 3.5 miles. Also worth noting is that three Spurs are in the top 10, Parker, Leonard, and Belinelli. They have been the beneficiaries of receiving the most rest in the league, while Harden has received almost the least. He might also be responsible for guarding them (especially Belinelli) in the next round if all the chips fall into place. Again, this does not bode well.

Enough digression. Houston Rockets followers just have to live with Harden not being the world’s most active defender. To some extent, that’s OK. Not everyone is. But there’s a line of tolerance that needs to be met, and at least mine is wearing very thin. Not only does the data point to Harden being almost the least active player in the league (at least Parker, for all his defensive deficiencies, runs around a lot), but coping with Harden’s lack of activity puts a lot of stress on team defense. Late in the season, the Rockets adopted a strategy of putting Harden on the opponent’s post man in the low block, usually the power forward. This “hides” Harden on defense because he doesn’t have to chase wing players on the perimeter, which he doesn’t do, nor does he have to constantly stay in front of dribble penetrators (he just swipes at them after they’ve passed him).

Hiding Harden in this way throws off the defensive assignments. As the shooting guard, he’s not just trading assignments with the small forward (Parsons), but with the power forward. It’s one thing for a wing to switch to another wing, it’s another for a power forward to switch onto a wing. Parsons can try guarding the guy across from Harden, but Jones/Motiejunas/et al will have a much harder time guarding the guy across from Parsons. This necessitates a lot of small ball using Parsons as the 4 so the defensive assignments can remain somewhat feasible. Against some teams, this might work out. Against Portland, it means Lamarcus Aldridge finds himself being guarded by a small forward. In extreme cases, Howard might switch onto Aldridge, but that takes Howard away from the paint and now Parsons is left trying to block out Robin Lopez.

See what happens? There’s a crescendo of actions that results from trying to hide Harden on defense, and none of them work out well. It also severely limits the possibility of pairing Howard and Asik, which was a much talked about strategy that was used an entirety of 4 minutes or something in game 1.

Adjustments

In five games against the Rockets, Aldridge has averaged 30.6 points and 16 rebounds. Everyone who is saying “oh comeon, it’s not like he can do that every game,” you’re wrong. He has been doing that every game and will continue to do so because he’s a nightmare matchup for the Rockets. What did Einstein say about the definition of insanity being doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result? If the Rockets keep guarding Aldridge the same way they have been and simply expect him to be average, they’re insane.

Would it be so horrible to send some guys off the bench (I’m thinking Motiejunas, specifically) just to see what happens when they’re on the floor with Aldridge? I mean really, could it get much worse? In our round table, pretty much everyone said they expected a drop off from Jones because of the matchup against Aldridge. Yet, Jones played most of the game and Aldridge went all-world on the Rockets, which is just par for the course. Again, definition of insanity…

I also think that the Rockets can take a page out of the Blazers book. They sent Wes Matthews into Harden’s grill, literally. He stuck his butt into Harden and forced Harden to play do his least favorite thing, play active defense. I have a feeling that was more for making Harden expend energy purposes than for putting points on the board purposes (though that also happened). I wonder if the Rockets could use the pick and roll to switch Aldridge onto a smaller perimeter player and run him around on defense a little bit. Or, better yet, sub in Motiejunas (use the bench!) to stretch Aldridge to the perimeter, where he’s less comfortable and has to move more.

Remember, Portland is the most tired team in the league. Substituting more than them and making them run is to the Rockets advantage.

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Total comments: 42
  • Willk says 3 months ago

    Thought I'd present some food for thought. Pulled shot charts from the first two games for Aldridge and Harden.


    GAME 1


    UchOulK.jpg


    GAME 2


    GDJ4eQ1.jpg


    Pretty interesting. Game 1 had Aldridge shoot entirely from the left side. In game 2, He tok 2 from the right and a few extra from the top of the key. I'm not sure if that was by accident, by choice, or due to the Rockets finding a way to get him there (I am dubious of this one). The disparity between inside and outside is ridiculous :lol:

    What I found more interesting is Harden's chart. I hadn't really noticed until I looked at them, but he is playing a lot of ball on the right side of the court. We have gone over this in the past and found he is a much better shooter on the left side of the floor.

    Here is a shot chart for this season:

    9KW6pFH.png


    Go back to those shot charts and things start to become more clear. I presume Portland is doing something to force him right...hadn't really thought about it. Hopefully, the team is going to do something and get him going left again. I mean, how did he not take a single shot from the left side of the court in game 2?

    Aldridge is going to shoot. I know a lot of people want the Rockets to sell out to stop him, but we have to ride out this storm. Stotts and the Blazers already have a plan for this and I guarantee they are just waiting for Houston to start double-teaming so they can set off Lillard and their pack of snipers. Aldridge may prove me wrong and continue knocking down his shots. If so, good for him. That is not easy to do.
    Thank you for the research JG. I agree that we should not double team LMA. It seems Portland is just as happy when teams double team. Hopefully he starts to miss soon.
  • rocketrick says 3 months ago

    Thought I'd present some food for thought. Pulled shot charts from the first two games for Aldridge and Harden.



    GAME 1


    UchOulK.jpg


    GAME 2


    GDJ4eQ1.jpg


    Pretty interesting. Game 1 had Aldridge shoot entirely from the left side. In game 2, He tok 2 from the right and a few extra from the top of the key. I'm not sure if that was by accident, by choice, or due to the Rockets finding a way to get him there (I am dubious of this one). The disparity between inside and outside is ridiculous :lol:

    What I found more interesting is Harden's chart. I hadn't really noticed until I looked at them, but he is playing a lot of ball on the right side of the court. We have gone over this in the past and found he is a much better shooter on the left side of the floor.

    Here is a shot chart for this season:

    9KW6pFH.png


    Go back to those shot charts and things start to become more clear. I presume Portland is doing something to force him right...hadn't really thought about it. Hopefully, the team is going to do something and get him going left again. I mean, how did he not take a single shot from the left side of the court in game 2?

    Aldridge is going to shoot. I know a lot of people want the Rockets to sell out to stop him, but we have to ride out this storm. Stotts and the Blazers already have a plan for this and I guarantee they are just waiting for Houston to start double-teaming so they can set off Lillard and their pack of snipers. Aldridge may prove me wrong and continue knocking down his shots. If so, good for him. That is not easy to do.


    Good stuff JohnnyGold. Confirms what I have said in other posts that the Rockets did indeed make some adjustments on defending Aldridge but just to no avail. He goes off 2 games in a row with 40+ so it's pretty understandeable that a lot of people wouldn't have realized this or were willing to admit that the adjustments made between Game 1 and Game 2 still weren't enough to slow down Aldridge.

    I think the Rockets should rely on Asik to once again stick with Aldridge one on one as long as he can stay out of foul trouble and at times (when Asik is out of the game) put D12 on Aldridge. This will at least keep him out of the paint moreso than having Terrance Jones or Chandler Parsons, etc. try to guard him. I don't think the Rockets can start both Asik and D12 because I worry both may start getting tired about the same time. It would be best to stagger their time on the court as much as possible allowing each ample rest in between stints and asking Terrance Jones to stick with Robin Lopez. I don't have a problem putting Motiejunas out there for a stint to see what he might be able to accomplish especially if Terrance Jones gets off to a bad start. TJones has at least contributed with some baskets and rebounds so it hasn't been a total loss with him out on the court.

    Yes, if Aldridge continues his torrid shooting, then this may be payback for what Hakeem did to MVP David Robinson and the Spurs in the 1994-95 Western Conference Finals. Things do tend to average out over the long haul, right?

    Let's hope Aldridge's long haul is over and his shooting drops off more to his average.

    Go Rockets!
  • thejohnnygold says 3 months ago

    Thought I'd present some food for thought. Pulled shot charts from the first two games for Aldridge and Harden.

    GAME 1

    UchOulK.jpg

    GAME 2

    GDJ4eQ1.jpg

    Pretty interesting. Game 1 had Aldridge shoot entirely from the left side. In game 2, He tok 2 from the right and a few extra from the top of the key. I'm not sure if that was by accident, by choice, or due to the Rockets finding a way to get him there (I am dubious of this one). The disparity between inside and outside is ridiculous :lol:

    What I found more interesting is Harden's chart. I hadn't really noticed until I looked at them, but he is playing a lot of ball on the right side of the court. We have gone over this in the past and found he is a much better shooter on the left side of the floor.

    Here is a shot chart for this season:

    9KW6pFH.png

    Go back to those shot charts and things start to become more clear. I presume Portland is doing something to force him right...hadn't really thought about it. Hopefully, the team is going to do something and get him going left again. I mean, how did he not take a single shot from the left side of the court in game 2?

    Aldridge is going to shoot. I know a lot of people want the Rockets to sell out to stop him, but we have to ride out this storm. Stotts and the Blazers already have a plan for this and I guarantee they are just waiting for Houston to start double-teaming so they can set off Lillard and their pack of snipers. Aldridge may prove me wrong and continue knocking down his shots. If so, good for him. That is not easy to do.

  • thejohnnygold says 3 months ago

    Yeah, I went through Aldridge's game logs at basketball-reference.com.

    It looks like Chicago has something figured out....sort of. Aldridge, in two games against Chicago went 2-10 and 4-20--that's 20% for both! We could use some of that.....until you look more closely.

    I watched what video I could find and it seems the Bulls were doubling Aldridge with a combination of Noah and whatever forward was nearby. This forced tough shots and lots of passes....to wide open teammates and, just as we anticipated they would, Portland shot 46% from 3 and won the game (11/22/2013).

    In the other game, on 3/28/2014, Portland was ready for the double teams. Aldridge only took 10 shots and Portland, once again, was 46% from deep. If the Rockets try to double team him more than every now and then they will know how to handle it and we will be in even bigger trouble than we are now.

  • Willk says 3 months ago

    It seems you're offended. :(

    You want to discuss making LMA operate from the right side of the court. OK then. You ask others to think for you. OK. You don't like what they think. You might notice I was the only one willing to indulge such a line of thinking. You offer nothing to the conversation except repetition and indignation. Sorry I did not meet your expectations.

    After watching last night's game do you still think there is a way to prevent LMA from operating on the left side? Did you notice he was perfect from the right side? Contrary to popular opinion, the Rockets did mix it up a bit with ball denial--all of which failed. He is 7' tall with soft hands! Short of double teaming him to prevent the entry pass he is going to get the ball in a spot he is comfortable with.

    Aldridge made shot after shot after shot with Asik swiping at his dribble, forcing him to stay outside, face-guarding him, and forcing him to shoot over an outstretched hand. I don't know if you've ever played basketball, but that makes things "uncomfortable". The fact that Aldridge made the shots is not an indictment of Asik's defense--it is a testament to his offense.

    Li said Aldridge can do it again--and he was right. You can flip a coin and keep getting heads too. You can play roulette and watch 25 hit 3 times in a row. I still contend that, with the difficulty level of those shots, he has to return to the land of mortals sooner than later.

    LMA is looking like Dirk in the 2011/12 playoffs. It is frustrating watching him hit contested shot after contested shot. You have to tip your cap to him and hope he starts to miss.
  • txtdo1411 says 3 months ago

    Those are good points, but I think FSS is talking more about the Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason, David West, Ron Artest, etc. kind of toughness. Mario Elie, Vernon Maxwell, Otis Thorpe, and Charles Barkley were players like this for the Rockets. Who on our team, outside of Beverley and Garcia fits that mold? I want Garcia out there so bad. Even if he misses all his threes (everyone else is too!) he will take a stand on defense and put some people on their butts with a little staredown for good measure. Let's get some guys T'd up next game :lol:

    Yea the Rockets don't have anyone other than Bev & Garcia, but in my humble opinion, it's not necessary to have more "toughness" than that. If we make just 5% more 3s (which would still be like 25%), and Aldridge is anywhere close to his career averages, we are up 2-0 right now. I don't know what more toughness does to stop Aldridge. Maybe a hard foul knocks him off his game, maybe it doesn't. I feel like it is lack of leadership and confidence when things aren't going our way, and the shots aren't falling. A veteran that brought leadership and that "toughness" might be the best thing for this current Rockets team.

  • feelingsupersonic says 3 months ago Yup, I'm not talking about points in the paint or some kind of metric that have little bearing on the mind game. I came up watching NBA in the 80's and 90's and enforcers came out in full force during the post season and the closest player we have like that is Beverley. Like I said before Howard is more patroller than enforcer and I understand how much the game has changed but why isn't anyone knocking Aldridge on floor? I know it's not something alone that would change the games but along with a couple other outcomes it would make a difference in my opinion.
  • thejohnnygold says 3 months ago

    FSS I don't know if we are physically soft as in rebounding or in terms of playing tough in the paint. We had 68 points in the paint compared to their 30. We also had 14 offensive rebounds to their 11. So I don't think there is an issue with our toughness down low. I believe we have an issue with mental toughness. Their outside shots our falling, and ours aren't. It sounds simple, but I don't know what else to chalk it up to. Aldridge has been completely unbelievable. Like better then Dirk in his prime unbelievable, and all of our players have lost their shot. It's not like we aren't getting decent looks. They just won't fall. Once our shots stop falling our whole demeanor changes. We stop moving on offense, and our energy decreases on defense. I think thats where the mental toughness comes into play. We got to realize that our shots aren't falling, and pick it up on defense to try and get some easy transition baskets. Its impossible to get transition points when you are inbounding the ball after a make consistently. Unless you are Matthews after a made free throw... Ugh that was super frustrating.

    Those are good points, but I think FSS is talking more about the Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason, David West, Ron Artest, etc. kind of toughness. Mario Elie, Vernon Maxwell, Otis Thorpe, and Charles Barkley were players like this for the Rockets. Who on our team, outside of Beverley and Garcia fits that mold? I want Garcia out there so bad. Even if he misses all his threes (everyone else is too!) he will take a stand on defense and put some people on their butts with a little staredown for good measure. Let's get some guys T'd up next game :lol:

  • txtdo1411 says 3 months ago

    FSS I don't know if we are physically soft as in rebounding or in terms of playing tough in the paint. We had 68 points in the paint compared to their 30. We also had 14 offensive rebounds to their 11. So I don't think there is an issue with our toughness down low. I believe we have an issue with mental toughness. Their outside shots our falling, and ours aren't. It sounds simple, but I don't know what else to chalk it up to. Aldridge has been completely unbelievable. Like better then Dirk in his prime unbelievable, and all of our players have lost their shot. It's not like we aren't getting decent looks. They just won't fall. Once our shots stop falling our whole demeanor changes. We stop moving on offense, and our energy decreases on defense. I think thats where the mental toughness comes into play. We got to realize that our shots aren't falling, and pick it up on defense to try and get some easy transition baskets. Its impossible to get transition points when you are inbounding the ball after a make consistently. Unless you are Matthews after a made free throw... Ugh that was super frustrating.

  • thejohnnygold says 3 months ago

    Sorry RocketManSinceStevieFrance, I agree with johnnygold. There isn't much to debate on the left side right side dynamic and that's why I didn't respond.

    I was wrong in thinking Aldridge wouldn't get more than 40 points again. I also still wish we would have seen Motiejunas go in and give Aldridge some hard fouls. This Rockets team seems pretty soft, am I the only one who thinks that?

    I didn't....but am starting to. Some hard fouls to those forearms of Aldridge could be just enough to throw off his jumpshot....and send a message.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 3 months ago We need a McRoberts to clothesline people.
  • feelingsupersonic says 3 months ago Sorry RocketManSinceStevieFrance, I agree with johnnygold. There isn't much to debate on the left side right side dynamic and that's why I didn't respond.

    I was wrong in thinking Aldridge wouldn't get more than 40 points again. I also still wish we would have seen Motiejunas go in and give Aldridge some hard fouls. This Rockets team seems pretty soft, am I the only one who thinks that?
  • thejohnnygold says 3 months ago

    No I was not meaning that as in I just knew something that no one knows, just figured this was a website for ideas and to discuss basketball. being an actual basketball player you are always looking at the game and film from games to see tendencies and certain things to slow a player down and make him uncomfortable. Was not acting like I had some brilliant idea but I guess I just might... Thanks for the comment

    It seems you're offended. :(

    You want to discuss making LMA operate from the right side of the court. OK then. You ask others to think for you. OK. You don't like what they think. You might notice I was the only one willing to indulge such a line of thinking. You offer nothing to the conversation except repetition and indignation. Sorry I did not meet your expectations.

    After watching last night's game do you still think there is a way to prevent LMA from operating on the left side? Did you notice he was perfect from the right side? Contrary to popular opinion, the Rockets did mix it up a bit with ball denial--all of which failed. He is 7' tall with soft hands! Short of double teaming him to prevent the entry pass he is going to get the ball in a spot he is comfortable with.

    Aldridge made shot after shot after shot with Asik swiping at his dribble, forcing him to stay outside, face-guarding him, and forcing him to shoot over an outstretched hand. I don't know if you've ever played basketball, but that makes things "uncomfortable". The fact that Aldridge made the shots is not an indictment of Asik's defense--it is a testament to his offense.

    Li said Aldridge can do it again--and he was right. You can flip a coin and keep getting heads too. You can play roulette and watch 25 hit 3 times in a row. I still contend that, with the difficulty level of those shots, he has to return to the land of mortals sooner than later.

  • PKM says 3 months ago

    1) Remember when I said LMA could do it again? He did it again. This isn't simply being on fire. His greatest skills are exactly what the Rockets are bad at defending.

    It is absolutely being on fire. I didn't get to watch the first half, but Houston did a reasonable job closing out on Aldridge in the third quarter. Not great, but no so badly that you would have him shoot 80% from midrange - I wouldn't expect Aldridge to do that if we left him wide open.

    The thing about this loss is that if we had won either of these games, I wouldn't be that worried. Even ignoring Harden, Houston has been shooting horribly ( and it's not Portland's defense - I looked back on Houston's missed threes via Synergy, and somewhere between 5-7 of them in Game 2 were wide open shots, and Parsons in particular was a disaster), LaMarcus has been berserk, and both games have been close losses. As Rahat observed on Twitter, you could theoretically chalk it up to regression... but you're running out of time. It reminds me of the 2009 Orlando-Cleveland series - while Howard was of course brilliant in that series, Orlando's three-point shooters went nuts as well, and that's sort of what we're seeing.

  • shirtless says 3 months ago

    Quick follow up after game 2, with some reluctant I-told-you-so's.

    1) Remember when I said LMA could do it again? He did it again. This isn't simply being on fire. His greatest skills are exactly what the Rockets are bad at defending.

    2) I didn't think it possible, but the Blazers and Rockets became even more allergic to their benches. The Blazers gave their bench players 20.8% of all floor minutes, the Rockets 22.1%. Both are lower than their game 1 percentages. While I objectively disagree with these allocations, you can make a case for the Blazers because they're winning and their bench is bad. For the Rockets, they're losing, their bench isn't bad, and the Blazers are tired. I'm even more confused about why the Rockets are so reluctant to mix things up. Which brings me to...

    3) I don't think very many adjustments were made. For one, it's hard to make any when you're essentially working with a seven man rotation. And why something didn't get changed once Aldridge reached, oh I don't know, 25 points on 11-or-so shots is beyond me. No double team? No ball denial? That definition of insanity rears its head..

    4) Harden's defense mattered for bad reasons, again. Did anyone else notice that the Rockets went small late in the 4th (a peculiar time to try it out) and Harden was guarding Lopez for about four minutes? Remember what I said about the Rockets trying to hide Harden on defense by putting him on the opponent's post man (usually the power forward)? In this case, they couldn't put Harden on LMA, because he's LMA, so they switched Howard to LMA and put Harden on Lopez. That's a 2 on a 5. I don't know how many other teams would voluntarily create that matchup for themselves, and yes it's a direct result of Harden's defensive liabilities. This is what happened after Harden started guarding Lopez:

    5:39

    Robin Lopez makes 14-foot jumper (LaMarcus Aldridge assists)

    94-85

    4:26

    Robin Lopez makes 7-foot jumper (Nicolas Batum assists)

    98-89

    4:00

    LaMarcus Aldridge misses 16-foot jumper

    98-91

    4:00

    Trail Blazers offensive team rebound

    98-91

    4:00

    James Harden loose ball foul (Robin Lopez draws the foul)

    98-91

    3:02

    Damian Lillard misses Running Jumper

    100-93

    3:01

    LaMarcus Aldridge offensive rebound

    100-93

    2:59

    LaMarcus Aldridge makes layup

    102-93

  • smeggysmeg says 3 months ago

    is it possible when Beverley said he doesn't watch any tape or scout Liilard, that none of the rockets do this and its not something the coaching staff consider as a component of game planning and preparation.....

    they don't seem to even have a plan A on defence, let alone adjustments :(

    and who would of thunk it, we can't win when Beard shoots badly

  • Steven says 3 months ago

    Haha Steven, I think Lin can get away with calling it an accident with his Christian nice persona.

    What about LMA?


    D-Mo does a McHale/Rambis circa '85 (I think).
  • thenit says 3 months ago Haha Steven, I think Lin can get away with calling it an accident with his Christian nice persona.

    What about LMA?
  • Steven says 3 months ago I know a plan for Lillard, had Lin pull a Jalen Rose. Pacers/Lakers '01 (I think) Finals. Lillard goes up for a J, Lin gets close to Lillard has no chose but land on his feet twisting his ankle.
  • RocketMansinceStevieFrance says 3 months ago

    No I was not meaning that as in I just knew something that no one knows, just figured this was a website for ideas and to discuss basketball. being an actual basketball player you are always looking at the game and film from games to see tendencies and certain things to slow a player down and make him uncomfortable. Was not acting like I had some brilliant idea but I guess I just might... Thanks for the comment

  • thejohnnygold says 3 months ago

    If you've got a plan I know 30 NBA coaches who would love to hear it....

  • RocketMansinceStevieFrance says 3 months ago

    Johnny Gold I get what you are saying but I guess it would make more sense to make Lillard or whoever is dribbling not get the ball to the right side... Idk though I guess we played ball a little different even though it was not the NBA we forced teams to not be able to throw to a certain guy on a side by doubling, playing very good defense on him and etc.. Idk just a few thoughts though

  • thejohnnygold says 3 months ago

    Here is a chart/graph to help better view the data. The X-axis is # of fouls and the Y-axis shows the Net +/- of wins/losses for that number of fouls.

    et0Ntqb.jpg

    So, in an ideal game Dwight would have 4 fouls, Harden would have 3, Parsons 1, Jones 1, Beverley 2, and Lin 2.

    * I used zeroes for players who did not commit 6 fouls in that column

    * there are only two columns that dip below zero--which is awesome and speaks to how good of a season we have had.

    * it is cool that most players thrive in the 1-3 range except Dwight. We need him being aggressive!

  • thejohnnygold says 3 months ago

    For what it's worth (since nobody seems interested in the notion that James Harden's foul count matters) here is our record with the corresponding number of fouls from this season for James:

    with 5 fouls - 4-3

    with 4 fouls - 4-4

    with 3 fouls - 13-4

    with 2 or less fouls - 27-14

    That may just be coincidence and I am sure other factors are at play, but that is compelling data nonetheless.

    James had 3 fouls in the loss to Portland on Sunday.

    Let's look at Dwight while we're here...

    with 5 fouls - 8-4

    with 4 fouls - 17-6

    with 3 fouls - 13-7

    with 2 or less fouls - 9-6

    I find this interesting. Dwight appears to be best at the 4 foul level and worst with 2 or less. Only two of the "2 or less" games had him playing less than 30 minutes so that's not a huge factor. Of the "2 or less", 7 were against non-playoff teams. Of the 5 foul games, only two were against non-playoff teams (NOP and DEN).

    (I can't believe neither Dwight nor James fouled out of a single game this season)

    How about Chandler.....

    with 6 fouls - 1-0

    with 5 fouls - 4-1

    with 4 fouls - 3-6

    with 3 fouls - 8-5

    with 2 fouls - 15-6

    with 1 foul - 15-5

    with 0 fouls - 5-0

    Parsons seems to fall into the less is more category. He is 35-11 when committing 2 or less fouls and 16-12 with 3+ fouls.

    Since we've come this far....let's look at Beverley...

    with 6 fouls - 2-2

    with 5 fouls - 7-4

    with 4 fouls - 7-3

    with 3 fouls - 7-5

    with 2 fouls - 10-1

    with 1 foul - 6-1

    with 0 fouls - 2-1

    ...And Jeremy Lin....

    with 5 fouls - 1-3

    with 4 fouls - 8-5

    with 3 fouls - 12-3

    with 2 fouls - 15-3

    with 1 foul - 7-6

    with 0 fouls - 5-3

    Lin and Bev are a little different as their minutes average closer to 30 versus the other guys. Bev excels with 2 or less while Lin prospers in the 2-3 range.

    We can't leave out Jones, can we?...

    with 5 fouls - 2-1

    with 4 fouls - 3-2

    with 3 fouls - 8-4

    with 2 fouls - 13-9

    with 1 foul - 17-7

    with 0 fouls - 8-2

    What does it all mean?....hard to speculate as so many variables can go into these things. The one thing that stands out is that when Parsons and Harden don't register fouls we tend to win. My hypothesis is that this allows them to spend more time on the court while being more aggressive on offense (by not worrying about picking up charges) which seems to translate to wins. If this comes at the expense of lackadaisical defense then so be it.

    We can be 100% assured Morey has run numbers upon numbers about this stuff. It would not surprise me one bit if he has determined offensive effort outweighs defensive effort (at least individually). I think our team defense is what gets us in trouble more than most anything else. Back door cuts and offensive rebounds are the things that kill us over the course of a close game. These are NBA players and they are going to score. If we can limit the "gimmes" and make them earn their points our offense should outpace most teams most of the time. We'll find out in about 4.5 hours!!!! :D

  • Cooper says 3 months ago

    The whole team was top 10 in points per 100 possessions. Points allowed is skewed because the pace at which the Rockets play, the other team gets more possessions then say the Eastern Conference and their walk it up the court method of playing basketball.

    I haven't been keeping up with ppp stats much but if thats the case then I don't see why people are upset about the defense. Top 10 is good enough to contend for a title with our scoring ability.

  • Willk says 3 months ago

    I couldn't care less about players dogging it on D during the regular season. The only players that play big minutes and don't are Noah, Butler, Tony Allen and Beverley thats it. If mchale is a failure for not pulling harden, parsons and others for bad defense every coach in the league does the exact same thing with their starters at some point. Who would you even put in? the 4-1 spots were all garbage on defense are you suggesting to bench everyone but Dwight? Its not like a Lineup of Howard DMo Hamilton Garcia and Lin would have fared well. Harden takes a lot of heat for defense but lets be real the whole team just isn't all that good defensively and it isn't that big a deal when they are running their offense and getting to the rim.

    Cooper I could not agree more. I am not concerned that Harden took plays off on D during the regular season. The first 1/4 of the season Harden wasplaying with foot and knee injuries. He gave little effort ondefense saving himself for the offensive side of the ball. Maybe he should havesit out some more of those games,maybe not. The most important thing is that he healthy now.The do not give out championships for wins in the regular season.

    Harden did take the first half off of defense during game 1, but his defense improved in the second half. This will probably happen again tonight. Good players know how to pace themselves and this is how Harden paces himself.

  • Steven says 3 months ago

    I couldn't care less about players dogging it on D during the regular season. The only players that play big minutes and don't are Noah, Butler, Tony Allen and Beverley thats it. If mchale is a failure for not pulling harden, parsons and others for bad defense every coach in the league does the exact same thing with their starters at some point. Who would you even put in? the 4-1 spots were all garbage on defense are you suggesting to bench everyone but Dwight? Its not like a Lineup of Howard DMo Hamilton Garcia and Lin would have fared well. Harden takes a lot of heat for defense but lets be real the whole team just isn't all that good defensively and it isn't that big a deal when they are running their offense and getting to the rim.

    The whole team was top 10 in points per 100 possessions. Points allowed is skewed because the pace at which the Rockets play, the other team gets more possessions then say the Eastern Conference and their walk it up the court method of playing basketball.
  • Cooper says 3 months ago

    I couldn't care less about players dogging it on D during the regular season. The only players that play big minutes and don't are Noah, Butler, Tony Allen and Beverley thats it. If mchale is a failure for not pulling harden, parsons and others for bad defense every coach in the league does the exact same thing with their starters at some point. Who would you even put in? the 4-1 spots were all garbage on defense are you suggesting to bench everyone but Dwight? Its not like a Lineup of Howard DMo Hamilton Garcia and Lin would have fared well. Harden takes a lot of heat for defense but lets be real the whole team just isn't all that good defensively and it isn't that big a deal when they are running their offense and getting to the rim.

  • uojoe82 says 3 months ago

    I think the data about Harden just reinforces what everyone already knows. Harden is lazy on defense and its no due to lack of ability, its just effort.

    The irony is that if he turns his defense around and becomes at least average for the remainder of this series on defense then this means that all season long it was an effort issue, Wouldn't this make you mad as a Rocket fan to know that he was just dogging it all season long and had the ability to be better? I don't think his defense will improve at all because he doesn't have to. At the end of the OT last game McHale was alternating Terrence Jones and Lin for offense and defense (Lin for offense, Jones for defense). This just shows that even when defensive stops are at a premium Mchale is unwilling to offend his designated hitter by pulling him on defense.

    This isnt the right forum to bring this up but has anyone thought of the long term implications of Beverley trying to play through this injury for both the Rockets and for Beverley? The realistic Rocket fan knows that winning a title this year is a long shot at best, it would have to take some upsets (Memphis eliminating OKC, Clippers being ousted by the Warriors) and some injuries (like the Al Jefferson injury, but to a contender) for the Rockets to have a chance. Is it smart to risk the long term health of Beverley in order to win a couple more games?

  • brewboss says 3 months ago

    In reading this very good article aboutKyle LowryI learned that D-Mo is fifth in the league in charges drawn this season with 22! That's more than half as many as league leader DeMarcus Cousins in less than a quarter of the minutes. Think he could keep Aldridge away from the hoop a little and generate some turnovers? McHale, PLAY THIS MAN!

  • thejohnnygold says 3 months ago

    TheJohnnyGold that is exactly what I am saying, you said that is where he is comfortable and if you are the Rockets that is what you are trying to change is him being in his comfort zone. So why not attempt to take him out of his comfort zone? And another thing is I can not stand when T-Jones or anyone else lets him post up and turn to his left they have to force him to the middle of the paint if he gets the opportunity to use the glass he is going to always be efficient.

    I'm not sure I can explain this any better. You seem to be under the impression that we can prevent Aldridge from setting up on the left block to go to work. How would that happen exactly?

    He is allowed to stand where he wants on the court. To force him out of there would be to foul him. We could try to deny an entry pass....but he is 7' tall with soft hands and has been working that spot since high school. He knows how to create space to get the ball one way or the other. We could double him and deny even getting the ball in his hands (like we did with Durant)....but unlike OKC, Portland will make us regret that decision by raining open threes on us and/or getting easy back door lay-ups.

    Aldridge seems to dribble much better right-handed so setting up on the left allows him to keep the ball in his strong hand and away from defenders while still seeing the floor. He has no reason nor desire to set up on the right.

    The only way to get him over there would be to physically pick him up and carry him....which is a foul :lol:

    Watch this video and explain to me how we "stop" Aldridge from doing anything....all you can hope for is he has an off night and shoots more jumpers than anything else:

    Here is the shot chart:

    fQD3exx.png

    Why wouldn't you want him to shoot from his spots? Those percentages are exactly what the Rockets want....the only problem is we have to find someone who can defend well enough to make him shoot from back there and not point blank at the rim.

    If this is insufficient to answer your question then I implore you to do your own research to find the answers you seek. There is a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips and it's a tad lazy to repeatedly ask others to do it for you.

    EDIT: clarity

  • rocketrick says 3 months ago

    The Blazers seem more prepared to think strategically about how to attack the Rockets, execute on a game plan and make in-game adjustments. Houston's game 1 approach was really no different than how they deal with regular season games. I'm very curious to see if McHale has it within him to make a strategic adjustment to tilt the tempo, match ups and shot selection in Houston's favor. These teams are evenly matched so talent alone isn't going to win this series. Aldridge and Lillard can score more points and secure more rebounds than Harden and Howard. Parsons, Lin, Asik and the bench are better than Portland's supporting cast.


    My thoughts on this is the fact that it is best to "save a couple of bullets" for future games. If McHale exhausted all his options in Game 1, what moves are left to make?

    This is a long, 7-game series.

    I always thought from the start that those who expected the Rockets to win this series in 5 games were undervaluing the Blazers.

    Each game is different as history has shown and I don't expect to see the same rotations, same short bench, same individual matchups, tonight, that the Rockets employed during Game 1.

    Go Rockets!
  • dbd says 3 months ago

    Agreed. Our approach in game 1 was no different than regular season and collective talent of starting five is almost equal.

    Blazers won the game one by disrupting our momentum by fouling Dwight. We must do the same. Disrupt LMA rhythm by sending new bodies such as D-Mo and Asik. I don't mind even sending smaller guys like Garcia and Hamilton.

  • rm90025 says 3 months ago

    The Blazers seem more prepared to think strategically about how to attack the Rockets, execute on a game plan and make in-game adjustments. Houston's game 1 approach was really no different than how they deal with regular season games. I'm very curious to see if McHale has it within him to make a strategic adjustment to tilt the tempo, match ups and shot selection in Houston's favor. These teams are evenly matched so talent alone isn't going to win this series. Aldridge and Lillard can score more points and secure more rebounds than Harden and Howard. Parsons, Lin, Asik and the bench are better than Portland's supporting cast.

  • RocketMansinceStevieFrance says 3 months ago

    TheJohnnyGold that is exactly what I am saying, you said that is where he is comfortable and if you are the Rockets that is what you are trying to change is him being in his comfort zone. So why not attempt to take him out of his comfort zone? And another thing is I can not stand when T-Jones or anyone else lets him post up and turn to his left they have to force him to the middle of the paint if he gets the opportunity to use the glass he is going to always be efficient.

  • chantu says 3 months ago

    Asik is too slow, Aldridge gets him in foul trouble right away.

    Asik's a good defensive player. He's not going to be in that long so fouls are less of an issue. We need big body on him. DMO's too skinny.

  • metaman says 3 months ago

    Another excellent article from RIchard Li. The reveal about Harden being the least-travelled player in the NBA comes as no surprise. As great a basketball player as he is, his emphasis on offensive output only is frustrating to watch. Of course it's great to get the 25+ ppg, but it's also mixed blessing as he essentially gives up an extra 10-15 points to more athletic SG/PG/SFs. Long term, in the off-season, Harden should do some endurance and strength training. He's a young man -- there's no reason he can't be better shape to exert more effort.

  • Cooper says 3 months ago

    I say sick Asik on Aldridge. Keep him to his 30.6 points and we win.

    Asik is too slow, Aldridge gets him in foul trouble right away.
  • thejohnnygold says 3 months ago

    I think we will wind up seeing quite a few different line-ups trying to find a "winning" combination--both big and small. It won't surprise me to see Garcia or Hamilton out there playing stretch 4 like Delfino did. I also won't be surprised to see D-Mo taking his turn. It will be fun to see what works and what doesn't. Ultimately, Aldridge is a great offensive player and that is always a pleasure to watch.

    As for his left side dominance--that is just where he operates. They run their offense through him and that is where he is comfortable. You would see the same thing looking up Hakeem's shot charts from the championship days. It would not be feasible to "force" Aldridge to play from the right side.

  • RocketMansinceStevieFrance says 3 months ago

    Rockets really need to stick DMO out there and just tell him to heckle LMA like no other.. You do that and force him to miss a few shots and thats a very good thing for the rockets.

    I know I said this earlier in a post, plus I know I do not have a lot of accreditation on this site seeing as I am a 'newbie' but in my mind someone really needs to look at LMA's shot chart and tell me why he did not take a single shot from the right side of the court???? Was this just a coincidence or does he struggle shooting on that side?

    Just a few thoughts.

  • chantu says 3 months ago

    I say sick Asik on Aldridge. Keep him to his 30.6 points and we win.

  • feelingsupersonic says 3 months ago There is a big difference between 46 points and 30 points especially when you consider where else Portland will get points from. For instance we could imagine Aldridge with 30 points and 8 shots he made redistributed to less efficient Blazers. Let's say half of those are made by others so that's an 8 point swing. Aldridge's game for the ages and a few other differences and this is easily a Rocket win.