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Huq’s Pen: Preparations for Game 3

  • It is 9:10 PM right now at the time of writing.  When Red94 goes to press, it will likely be sometime early Friday morning.  I thought I would have cooled off from my rage from this morning (Thursday morning), but having read Michael Pina’s piece just now on Houston’s defensive coverage schemes on LaMarcus Aldridge, I’m seething.  Until then, I had not yet had time to examine the tape from last night.  More on this later.
  • When things are going bad, the coach is usually the inevitable scapegoat,  even when such blame is unwarranted.  I hate that.  But I should note, in my adult life following this team, I never once before McHale blamed the team’s failures upon its coach.  Rick Adelman and Jeff Van Gundy had their flaws, yes.  But never did I feel that either man was a large part of the reason why the team had lost or was losing.  In the case of Van Gundy, he drove me mad with his myopic outlook to team management – I still have not forgiven him for the night in Denver when he played David Wesley and Juwan Howard heavy minutes down the stretch of a meaningless win, leading to the forfeit of a draft slot which could have nabbed Brandon Roy.  But there was not a single night during his tenure here that I said to myself, “man, the Rockets just didn’t come ready to play today.”  In fact, that was the one thing you could point to with Van Gundy.  He always had his troops ready to play.  Against the Lakers in the first round, in ’04, I vividly remember feeling as if the team had six players on the court, during defensive stretches.  That’s how on-point the balded one had his gang with their rotations.  And this was with some of the dumbest players in the league like Steve Francis and the infamous Kelvin Cato playing huge minutes.

  • McHale’s Rockets have been losing in the same ways ever since his hiring.  The end of season collapse for the Rockets isn’t much of a coincidence now that it happens every year, dating back to the tail end of the Lowry era when the team went on a six game losing to close the season, getting blown out in the third quarter of each of those losses.  When you lose repeatedly in the same manner, it is on coaching.
  • If the Rockets lose this series, McHale is gone – that much is a foregone conclusion.  But beyond that, Daryl Morey will have to do some reassessment of certain things.  To date, Mr. Morey has been near flawless in his execution of talent acquisition.  As I’ve been saying all year, with that phase of the master-plan complete, the focus now should be solely upon basketball.  Its been one of the worst kept secrets in this city that McHale was brought in because he could be more easily steered from the front office than a more headstrong option.  Morey and co. could implement the analytical findings (3′s and paint) with little resistance, but further, McHale was less likely to throw a fit over forward-thinking personnel moves.  Recall the fit Rick Adelman threw upon Morey’s trading of two starters midseason and his well-documented clashes with Morey over overall philosophy….
  • But now, none of that matters.  The Rockets no longer need a bridgegap because they already are where they wanted to be.  They have their superstar core.  They won’t be trading starters or benching veterans for younger players.  There’s no need to fear a mutiny over personnel changes because there won’t be personnel changes.  The Rockets are set.  Any moves they make would be ones that a veteran coach would pull for (ie: trading for Carmelo etc.).  Now is the time for Houston to acquire a coach who they can allow to actually coach the team.  They only have a three year window remaining with this group and they cannot afford to f*** around any longer.
  • You think Phil Jackson’s having some regrets about jumping to that Knick gig so quickly?
  • Several of you asked me my preference for the next coach of this team.  To respond, I’m not sure.  The only thing I am sure about is that it has to be someone established and not another figurehead, for the reasons I explained above.  The Van Gundy brothers are publicly on great terms with Mr. Morey and of course, as several people have noted, its well-documented that Dwight and Stan have put their differences behind them.  I think Stan would jump at the job offer but I’m not so sure Jeff would be willing to leave the niche he’s carved out as the best color-man in basketball.  But how awesome would it be if you could somehow convince those guys to each take less so you could afford to sign both of them?  How awesome would those postgame pressers be?  It would never happen because it serves no practical purpose but still…
  • We’ll have plenty of time to mull over the coaching options once the summer begins, but there is a game tonight which needs to be played.  Despite the poor coaching, I just have a hard time seeing Houston losing the next two.  Unless they’ve given up.  And hell, there’s a very real chance they have given up.  But if they haven’t, just based on talent alone, there is just no mathematical way possible for this Blazers team to beat this Rockets team four times in a row.  You have to expect Harden to improve slightly and for Aldridge to regress slightly, and those two expected occurrences alone should be enough to tilt the balance.
  • Has Houston given up?  Again, its possible.  The only guys with pride on this team, really, who are also influential enough to assert any leadership are Patrick Beverley and Chandler Parsons.  If Harden had any pride, he’d give a damn on the defensive end, and while I think it might be unfair to say Howard doesn’t have pride, I also think he’s just overall far too unsure of himself and insecure to really impose his will.  In fact, after the whole Orlando fiasco where Howard essentially waived a collectively bargained contractual right and tied his financial future upon “wanting people to like [him]“, you have to think the only person in pro sports with less self confidence is Jeremy Lin.  And Lin’s the guy about whom every year ten newspaper articles come out reporting after the season that he cried himself to sleep every night during the year with worry over getting cut/losing his job.*
  • *This is where the Lin Internet Contingent corrects me that Lin actually did not literally ‘cry’ but rather, was merely in a state of great mental angst.
  • A digression: how awkward would it be for Stan Van Gundy to get hired here, even though he and Dwight made up?  It’d be kind of like rekindling ties with your dad after you left home seeking independence and ultimately got sick of living in a studio apartment eating ramen every night.
  • Back to the game: look, you can’t ask for intricate strategic adjustments.  Even if McHale were capable, implementation is just not possible this late in the game.  This is all you can hope for right now: first, pride, as I already explained.  You have to hope the team hasn’t given up.  Second, reversion (re: Aldridge), as I explained.  Third, some lineup changes.  I think there’s a good chance you could see Motiejunas and perhaps Daniels in the place of Garcia.  McHale has shown a willingness to make extreme lineup changes in these circumstances.  You could also see different versions of small-ball.  Fourth, you have to hope for “basic” adjustments.  Again, it’s too much to ask for anything intricate, but they can change their pick and roll coverage, as Pina outlined in his piece last night.  Having the ‘bigs’ stay at home on Aldridge is basic and implementable and could be more than enough to tilt the odds.
  • But all of those missed rotations and defensive miscues you kept seeing, over and over, on Wednesday night?  Forget about seeing that stuff fixed.  It’s just too late.  Those errors are just emblematic of a poorly coached, ill-prepared team and there’s nothing that can be done about any of that right now.  That is the stuff that becomes ingrained in practice and its become clear the Rockets haven’t been practicing any of it, to date.  Again, all you can hope for are some basic pick and roll coverage tweaks.
  • As Pina said, Terrence Jones shouldn’t see a single second on LaMarcus Aldridge tonight.  It’s not even worth wasting anyone’s time.  And when Jones has been on Lopez, he’s been unable to box Lopez out.  If I were McHale, I would just start Asik because, aside from a few highlight reel plays every game, as I had feared at the trade deadline, Terrence Jones just can’t play with the big boys.  He literally doesn’t even have a chance out there.  It’s not just Jones’ individual defense that’s killing the team right now, but moreso, his inability to rotate quickly as a help defender.  When Dwight/Asik are showing on the ball-handler, it’s Jones’ responsibility to rotate to the paint and he hasn’t been there nearly soon enough.
  • On that point, please play Motiejunas.  The lineup that included him, alongside Howard, was Houston’s stingiest defensively.
  • Last major point: As the Pina piece outlined in bits, and as you all saw the other night, Asik did about as good of a job as anyone could expect defensively on Aldridge.  He battled him for positioning before the play began, he moved his feet, and he contested on every attempt.  He just got smoked.  That’s what makes what Aldridge is doing so breathtaking.  He is hitting turnaround 19 footers with Asik draped in his face.
  • On Asik: it’s contrary to popular opinion, but Asik is the superior pick and roll defender over Howard, as some of the tape shows.  Howard, in general, is a bit slow to rotate back after showing on the guard.  It shouldn’t be hard to believe because Asik’s greatest quality upon his signing, from those in the know, was his ability to guard the guard in the pick and roll.  It’s just hard for people to believe because it’s the same guy who routinely trips over his own feet under the basket and has some of the worst hair in the league.
  • Last thought on adjustments: it is hilarious and also downright chilling that McHale’s idea of an adjustment from Game 1 to Game 2 was, rather than trying anything new, just hope that Asik didn’t get into foul trouble this time around.
  • Conclusion: this isn’t over.  Houston just has too much individual talent to get smoked four straight by this Blazers team.  With some very basic adjustments in coverage schemes and expected reversion to the mean (ie: Harden getting over his hangover), the Rockets can pull off this Game 3.  But it will be tough.  Have they given up?

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Total comments: 29
  • BallSoHarden says 5 months ago

    You mention the defensive rotations always being sharp with JVG as coach, wasn't Thibodeau the assistant back then? Probably something to do with the defense.

  • miketheodio says 5 months ago Completely agree with Rahat.

    Losing double digit leads late in the game being a pattern for the season is inexcusable. Lack of fundamentals (securing defensive rebouns, boxing out, fundamentals on defense like backdoor cuts).

    A win is cool but the major flaws are still there. Happy for Daniels because I love a good story and lin redeeming himself were cool. Still haven't done anything yet
  • LOFlcopter says 5 months ago

    Benches typically do not have good defensive players, so even though Lin is playing w/ bench players he is still facing bench players who are not great defenders. He should be able to dominate them. Many of his fans have pointed out to me that during Linsanity, Lin was playing w/ backups against starters. Lin put up big numbers and the Knicks won, so if this is the case I do not think it is out of line to think he could dominate backups.

    You are rightLin and Harden's games are not really compatible. Lin has played well in the starting line-up without Harden. Obviously two games skew Lin's stats greatly, but that he has played better as a starter w/o Harden.

    As I recall, in NY, he did play with backups, but he also still had Tyson Chandler who frequently set good screens for him (definitely more than he gets as a Rocket) and was adept in the PnR, he had Novak who was a really really good shooter and able to spread the floor, and he had Fields who was a good slashing guard. All I'm saying is he could do more with those players - he meshed offensively with those lineups really well- than he can when surrounded by Casspi, DMO, and other backups. You're right that he does play better against backups despite some of these disadvantages, I'm just simply saying it's not like he should be expected to explode every time he comes off the bench because he is playing against bench players. You still need other players around you who can complement you offensively to be able to be effective.

    That's more a reference to earlier in the season, however. I think since Asik has been back (he sets better screens than Howard), and with the addition of Troy Daniels (a really good shooter), Lin's play with the bench will improve slowly. They just need more time and practice (unfortunately not a luxury they have). Btw what two games are you referring to that skews his stats? The SAS 38 point game and the Sixers game 34 point game? They do skew his stats PPG wise but mainly because they went to overtime I think, but per 36 wise I'd guess that they were in line with what he normally can produce when playing with starters w/o Harden. TS% wise, the sixers game does skew things alot tho XD

  • Willk says 5 months ago

    To be fair, Lin's problem offensively is actually that he and Harden simply don't complement each other well. I think Lin is actually LESS efficient when he plays with Harden. And remember when he comes off the bench instead and plays against back-ups, he also plays WITH Rockets bench players too (e.g., Casspi, DMO, etc., who do NOT draw a lot of attention), which levels things out a little bit.

    Where Lin is MOST efficient is when he plays in the starting lineup WITHOUT Harden (this is where he has been most consistent, and I really do not recall a bad game from him when he started in the place of Harden, last season included). In this case, yes, Howard commands a lot of attention which helps Lin out a lot. I just don't think Harden's presence helps him as much in terms of efficient shooting.

    Benches typically do not have good defensive players, so even though Lin is playing w/ bench players he is still facing bench players who are not great defenders. He should be able to dominate them. Many of his fans have pointed out to me that during Linsanity, Lin was playing w/ backups against starters. Lin put up big numbers and the Knicks won, so if this is the case I do not think it is out of line to think he could dominate backups.

    You are rightLin and Harden's games are not really compatible. Lin has played well in the starting line-up without Harden. Obviously two games skew Lin's stats greatly, but that he has played better as a starter w/o Harden.

  • Willk says 5 months ago

    Wow talk about being biased. Lin had a very good game 1 drove to the rim at will, he missed a couple lay ups but he played well. He is not the most important and he didn't guard lillard except for a couple possession. And if he is a role player why do you compare his role to curry? He started about half the game this year so his stats are mixed. Lin is not our most important player or 2nd etc. but he is the only guys off the bench that can change the game and win us a game or two IF he gets hot.

    Lin needs to do his job and contribute, not take over and be an X factor if the oppurturnities presents itself.

    Watch game one in whole and you could see him beat mo Williams all the time, so don't just look at box scores and nit pick stats.

    Please review the whole discussion. Rocket 911 claims Lin has been blamed here for the losses. This is furthest thing from the truth. The only people I see getting blamed here are McHale and Harden. I do not see any posts blaming lin.

    Rocket911 also claims Lin would have won game 1 if someone could grab a rebound. He then goes on claiming Lin was Clutch in this game. Yes he did play good in OT, but he definitely did not play good in 4th quarter, which is crunch time. You are right Lin did guard Lillard a few times only, but Lillard scored on all of those times. Lin did get in the paint of few times but before the Blazers bigs fouled out, he shot poorly. Missing lay-ups is not good.

    I do not agree Lin is the only one on the bench that is capable of changing games. I think tonight's game proved that.

    Rocket911 then started stating stats like Lin is #1 among PGs in PPS (which is incorrect, he is 5th in a group with players like Ramon Sessions and Darren Collison). The stats Rocket911 cites just show the Rockets are using Lin correctly.

    I agree that Lin needs to do his job and contribute while playing within himself. He does contribute to the team.

    Finally, once again nobody is blaming Lin for games 1 & 2, but this Lin is being prosecuted by McHale and his teammates theme that is going around his fandom is old and incorrect.

  • LOFlcopter says 5 months ago

    As far as the PPS thing is concerned, Lin has the luxury of playing against back-ups or with players like harden and Howard that command a lot of attention. What would Stephen curry's PPS be if he played w/ harden & Howard or against back-ups? Lin can get more efficient shots because of this.

    To be fair, Lin's problem offensively is actually that he and Harden simply don't complement each other well. I think Lin is actually LESS efficient when he plays with Harden. And remember when he comes off the bench instead and plays against back-ups, he also plays WITH Rockets bench players too (e.g., Casspi, DMO, etc., who do NOT draw a lot of attention), which levels things out a little bit.

    Where Lin is MOST efficient is when he plays in the starting lineup WITHOUT Harden (this is where he has been most consistent, and I really do not recall a bad game from him when he started in the place of Harden, last season included). In this case, yes, Howard commands a lot of attention which helps Lin out a lot. I just don't think Harden's presence helps him as much in terms of efficient shooting.

  • thenit says 5 months ago Wow talk about being biased. Lin had a very good game 1 drove to the rim at will, he missed a couple lay ups but he played well. He is not the most important and he didn't guard lillard except for a couple possession. And if he is a role player why do you compare his role to curry? He started about half the game this year so his stats are mixed. Lin is not our most important player or 2nd etc. but he is the only guys off the bench that can change the game and win us a game or two IF he gets hot.

    Lin needs to do his job and contribute, not take over and be an X factor if the oppurturnities presents itself.

    Watch game one in whole and you could see him beat mo Williams all the time, so don't just look at box scores and nit pick stats.
  • Willk says 5 months ago

    Actually he was the key player in game one. In OT, crunch time, clutch time, he won that game for the Rockets if someone would have just grabbed the rebound. Why he was able to be clutch in clutch time situations? Because he was given the opportunity in the 1-2 PnR which Portland had no idea how to stop. Which brings me to my next point.

    How many times did they run the same 1-2 PnR in the second game? 0. Why? Because McHale is not the brightest coach to know how to exploit matchups and gain an advantage. Fans complain about "Jeremy Lin needs to do this, do that, perform this way" Lin isn't calling the shots, he doesn't run the plays. He isn't even given the opportunity he needs to make the plays you think he should make. How many shots did he take the 2nd game. 3 3pointers, 2 drives. How do you expect a player to perform without opportunity is just senseless so those that complain that he has to do more, tell McHale that, tell Harden to stop dribbling so much throwing up prayers going down the lane hoping to get fouled. Have Lin exploit a matchup in their favor with the 1-2 PnR. Tell Chandler Parsons to stop taking dumb shots. Then come back with an argument that says "Lin should have gave us more then what he did" for those who don't know this, he's tied for #1 of all PGs in Points Per Shot. Only problem is he isn't given the same opportunity they have.

    I'm not going to kill the guy that barely ever has rhythm of any 6th man that takes only 9.5 shots per game average. Don't even let me break out stats when he actually has that opportunity to do something, taking 12+ shots like any other true 6th man.

    As far as blaming just 1 guy that's barely noticeable because we put him in that position, I blame coaching, I blame Harden, I blame the fans that think it's just about 1 person to throw under the rug. And don't give me crap because I'm not blind to see that the stars on this team should be thrown under the bus. A teammate is a teammate if your a true Rockets fan. I'm not about that 1 man above the crew type junk. Everybody has got to step up!

    Lin was not the key player in game 1. He was 2-7 in the first 4 quarters of play. He played poorly in the 2nd half. Lillard scored every time lin matched up against him. He also committed a costly TO when the Rox were up 98-95 that lead to a 3 point play. The 4th quarter is crunch time and lin has been non existent in both 4th quarters. Yes he played well in OT. The biggest reason he had success was that Lopez and LMA fouled out and there was no rim protection. When those players are in the game, lin has shot poorly and has been reluctant to drive against those two. Lin has played about 60 minutes. Like lin said every time you go on the court you have a chance to effect the game. No, the other players do not ignore Lin and no McHale does not call the play everybody but Lin. Why is McHale even playing Lin if he does not like Lin?
    As far as the PPS thing is concerned, Lin has the luxury of playing against back-ups or with players like harden and Howard that command a lot of attention. What would Stephen curry's PPS be if he played w/ harden & Howard or against back-ups? Lin can get more efficient shots because of this. Players like CP3 and Curry have to force up many bad shots that Lin does not. Lin is 4th on the team in shots and 4th on the team in PPS, so the amount of shots he takes is appropriate.
    Lin also what at the top of the tables in Highest TO%. Let's stop this everybody hates Lin and everybody is blaming Lin. Nobody here is blaming Lin. He is just a role player. So I'm not sure why you decided to post this.
  • Johnny33 says 5 months ago

    A lot of whining in this piece. The Rockets have it within themselves to turn it around. McHale just has to change the lineup. The key player is Lin. He has been their second best player in this series and when he has been on the court he has made the game easier for everyone else. He needs the ball in the half court offense to initiate pick and roll, post-up and to just make plays for himself and teammates. Dwight Howard might never have cooled off in Game 2 if Lin were on the court initiating plays that resulted in dunks, free throw attempts or layups for Howard. I also think Casspi, Garcia and D-Mo need minutes because each has 2-way capabilities and can impact the game. Beverley's minutes have to go down, Harden has to be slotted into playing off the ball early to get going with some easy baskets.

    The problem is that Lin has been the second best player in this series, definitely the most consistent. He is not scoring much but he is getting Dwight easy looks and he is the only one moving the ball effectively. Lin should not be the 2nd best player - it should be Harden and Dwight at 1 & 2. They're the supposed cornerstone of the franchise.

  • Rockets911 says 5 months ago

    The key player is not Jeremy Lin, the key player is James Harden. Not to downplay Jeremy Lin or the importance of getting a positive contribution from him at least similar to Game 1. Game 2 Jeremy Lin, not so much.

    Go Rockets!


    Actually he was the key player in game one. In OT, crunch time, clutch time, he won that game for the Rockets if someone would have just grabbed the rebound. Why he was able to be clutch in clutch time situations? Because he was given the opportunity in the 1-2 PnR which Portland had no idea how to stop. Which brings me to my next point.

    How many times did they run the same 1-2 PnR in the second game? 0. Why? Because McHale is not the brightest coach to know how to exploit matchups and gain an advantage. Fans complain about "Jeremy Lin needs to do this, do that, perform this way" Lin isn't calling the shots, he doesn't run the plays. He isn't even given the opportunity he needs to make the plays you think he should make. How many shots did he take the 2nd game. 3 3pointers, 2 drives. How do you expect a player to perform without opportunity is just senseless so those that complain that he has to do more, tell McHale that, tell Harden to stop dribbling so much throwing up prayers going down the lane hoping to get fouled. Have Lin exploit a matchup in their favor with the 1-2 PnR. Tell Chandler Parsons to stop taking dumb shots. Then come back with an argument that says "Lin should have gave us more then what he did" for those who don't know this, he's tied for #1 of all PGs in Points Per Shot. Only problem is he isn't given the same opportunity they have.

    I'm not going to kill the guy that barely ever has rhythm of any 6th man that takes only 9.5 shots per game average. Don't even let me break out stats when he actually has that opportunity to do something, taking 12+ shots like any other true 6th man.

    As far as blaming just 1 guy that's barely noticeable because we put him in that position, I blame coaching, I blame Harden, I blame the fans that think it's just about 1 person to throw under the rug. And don't give me crap because I'm not blind to see that the stars on this team should be thrown under the bus. A teammate is a teammate if your a true Rockets fan. I'm not about that 1 man above the crew type junk. Everybody has got to step up!
  • bladad says 6 months ago

    You're not a downer bladad just misguided. Your opinion of Chandler tells me enough, he was actually overrated and the truth is Carlisle and his schemes anchored that Dallas defense and made Tyson Chandler look better than the good center he is. Asik's conditioning eh?

    I agree with you rocketrick. Thanks for getting me out of my dumb knee jerk reactions, which hasn't been as bad as many others. Losing two games where we play Wilt Chamberlin and then Kareem Abdul-Jabbar doesn't normally happen but once every 30 years. Perhaps as tough as it is we should be marveling at what Aldridge has accomplished and pray that is over.

    Also, everyone reading this topic go up to JohnnyRocket's post, everyone needs a dose of what he is putting down.

    Wasn't referring to Chandler's stint in Dallas by the way.

  • Alituro says 6 months ago

    I can see where a big game from Lin could be key to a win or two. Seeing as how they've locked down Harden with perpetual doubling, and how Harden lets the non-whistles seemingly get under his skin. Especially if we start or employ the Twin Towers, Lin should be on the floor with Harden because they too easily double off Beverley, and we're slightly offensively handicapped with Asik out there. Lin poses enough of a scoring threat to be left alone. Run the plays through Harden as the PG and decoy (if he buys in). It's just a question of which Lin will show up tonight. Or, for that matter, which Rockets will show up tonight. Hopefully the ones who like to run PnRs from time to time. I'd like to see D-mo get some burn if for no other reason than the energy he brings. I think he could handle Lopez on D if we have Asik up LMA's arse, especially if hackin Howard starts. We have a plethora (how many?) of scoring threats, sadly though we tend to rely on only one at a time. either Dwight in the post or Harden being Harden, gotta mix it up some more, too predictable.

  • BrentYen says 6 months ago

    I think at least we need to be open minded about using mid range to bail us out of a bad possession

    Watching these guards in the playoffs(Conley, etc...) with midrange floaters makes me wonder if we hurt ourselves completely abandoning the midrange. Of course having LMA smash us in the mouth with the midrange jumper doesn't help either. I think our philosophy is fine except instead of eliminating the midrange, we should use it sparingly.

    .

  • timetodienow1234567 says 6 months ago Watching these guards in the playoffs(Conley, etc...) with midrange floaters makes me wonder if we hurt ourselves completely abandoning the midrange. Of course having LMA smash us in the mouth with the midrange jumper doesn't help either. I think our philosophy is fine except instead of eliminating the midrange, we should use it sparingly.
  • rocketrick says 6 months ago

    I encourage everyone to listen to the latest Zach Lowe podcast. His guest was Tom Haberstroh (ESPN writer) who spent his time in Houston for games 1 and 2. He provides a lot of insight about the first two games and they probably spend the majority of the podcast talking about Houston.

    LOL, while I was writing this someone posted the same thing.


    I listened to the first 35 minutes before they shifted to other topics like Shane Battier, etc.

    Not a whole lot to glean from the podcast although I thoroughly enjoyed their take on Moreyball vs. Aldridge's mid-range game----particularly making the point that Portland is probably even more analytical with the stats than the Rockets and pointing out that Aldridge is far better than an average mid-range shooter which can also lead to open 3 point shots, dunks, etc. for his teammates, the ideal Moreyball strategy. And stating that the Rockets don't have as effective a mid-range game leading them to having to rely so much on the 3-point shot, fastbreak layups and dunks and a multitude of free throws. Portland has done an excellent job thus far guarding the 3-point line and keeping Harden and most everyone else off the free throw line. Basically saying an above average mid-range game works perfectly with the Moreyball strategy and that Portland and Dallas have the perfect midrange game shooters in Aldridge and Dirk which can also lead to dunks and wide open 3's for their teammates depending on how they are being defended.

    I don't know, perhaps the Rockets could try and feature Harden's mid-range game and have him focus on that more than taking 3-point shots other than those that come more naturally in the flow of the offense assuming the Rockets can get out of first gear tonight? Basically just thinking out loud here. Any other thoughts on this?

    Go Rockets!
  • rocketrick says 6 months ago

    A lot of whining in this piece. The Rockets have it within themselves to turn it around. McHale just has to change the lineup. The key player is Lin. He has been their second best player in this series and when he has been on the court he has made the game easier for everyone else. He needs the ball in the half court offense to initiate pick and roll, post-up and to just make plays for himself and teammates. Dwight Howard might never have cooled off in Game 2 if Lin were on the court initiating plays that resulted in dunks, free throw attempts or layups for Howard. I also think Casspi, Garcia and D-Mo need minutes because each has 2-way capabilities and can impact the game. Beverley's minutes have to go down, Harden has to be slotted into playing off the ball early to get going with some easy baskets.


    I like your overall attitude with your response although I must reluctantly point out one discrepancy.

    The key player is not Jeremy Lin, the key player is James Harden. Not to downplay Jeremy Lin or the importance of getting a positive contribution from him at least similar to Game 1. Game 2 Jeremy Lin, not so much.

    No doubt the Rockets need contributions from multiple players tonight. However, if Harden doesn't shoot himself out of his slump tonight, it will make things much more difficult.

    Go Rockets!
  • rm90025 says 6 months ago

    A lot of whining in this piece. The Rockets have it within themselves to turn it around. McHale just has to change the lineup. The key player is Lin. He has been their second best player in this series and when he has been on the court he has made the game easier for everyone else. He needs the ball in the half court offense to initiate pick and roll, post-up and to just make plays for himself and teammates. Dwight Howard might never have cooled off in Game 2 if Lin were on the court initiating plays that resulted in dunks, free throw attempts or layups for Howard. I also think Casspi, Garcia and D-Mo need minutes because each has 2-way capabilities and can impact the game. Beverley's minutes have to go down, Harden has to be slotted into playing off the ball early to get going with some easy baskets.

  • Sir Thursday says 6 months ago

    Rahat, you've got to make some adjustments to your bullet-point strategy. Your current one bullet per paragraph is not working against the onslaught of multi-paragraph points you're putting out! I didn't see any adjustments between Games 1 and 2, but I'm hoping a more coherent plan will come together for Game 3 ;). We haven't even seen any attempts at nested bullet points or multi-paragraph points yet!

    On the topic of what was written, I'm not quite seeing where the 'giving up' thing is coming from. As a fan, there are plenty of statistics from series past that highlight how unlikely it is to come back from this deficit, but the players have far more data/knowledge about what they can change to turn things around than we do and therefore won't be concerned with such trifles. The success of Dwight's post game and the room for improvement in Harden's performances provide plenty of reasons for them to believe they can still do this.

    ST

  • uojoe82 says 6 months ago

    I encourage everyone to listen to the latest Zach Lowe podcast. His guest was Tom Haberstroh (ESPN writer) who spent his time in Houston for games 1 and 2. He provides a lot of insight about the first two games and they probably spend the majority of the podcast talking about Houston.

    LOL, while I was writing this someone posted the same thing.

  • Cooper says 6 months ago

    http://grantland.com/the-triangle/the-lowe-post-podcast-zach-lowe-and-tom-haberstroh/

    some interesting stuff from Haberstroh and Lowe on the rockets blazers matchup

  • feelingsupersonic says 6 months ago You're not a downer bladad just misguided. Your opinion of Chandler tells me enough, he was actually overrated and the truth is Carlisle and his schemes anchored that Dallas defense and made Tyson Chandler look better than the good center he is. Asik's conditioning eh?

    I agree with you rocketrick. Thanks for getting me out of my dumb knee jerk reactions, which hasn't been as bad as many others. Losing two games where we play Wilt Chamberlin and then Kareem Abdul-Jabbar doesn't normally happen but once every 30 years. Perhaps as tough as it is we should be marveling at what Aldridge has accomplished and pray that is over.

    Also, everyone reading this topic go up to JohnnyRocket's post, everyone needs a dose of what he is putting down.
  • bladad says 6 months ago

    Not to be a debbie downer, but this series was over before it even began. Hopefully, all ye Rocket faithful can finally admit that this team is horrid on defense as a team. D12 is physically gifted and can play tremendous help D when he's motivated and willing. He is not a player in the mold of Tyson Chandler that can single handedly anchor a defense. Asik can be that anchor provided he gets back the conditioning and the playing time to make a difference. Harden and Parsons are both sub par defensively on a consistent basis. You can cover up individual terrible on ball defense provided that you employ a defensive system based on consistent COACHING and willing personnel. It seems the Rockets do not have the coach nor the mentality of the current personnel to play great team D. It's a massive shame. Like someone mentioned before (I don't quite remember who made the point), the best, most effiecient, most successful teams that run and gun are the teams that get those transition oppurtunities because of great defense.

  • Cooper says 6 months ago

    You can't have too many good shooters obviously and they did try to nab Dunleavy from the bulls at the deadline but like rocketrick said our guys are just stone cold its not like they all suddenly forgot how to shoot. Even the splash bros were ice cold for the warriors last night should they have brought in more shooters to account for that? only so much you can do when open looks aren't falling and fadeaway contested shots for the other team are.

  • rocketrick says 6 months ago

    Great points and reflects what I think this fan base largely feels. I thought all season that what this team needs is a 3 and D perimeter player. Now it looks like we also need a mobile post defender as well. ...but granted, there are only a few Aldridge, Bosh, Dirk type players to drive us this mad.
    Also, is it me or is our 3pt shooting something awful. I know people think Morey is great and all, and maybe players are just cold shooting right now, but for a team run on a huge stress for 3pt shots, we have none that can make them. Harden has struggled, Parsons' shot looks terrible at times, and Lin tries but is only so good. That one is on Morey. Maybe there were just no 3pt shooters available last summer? maybe we couldn't afford them after paying Dwight his money, but it exposes us over and over and shots bang off the rim.
    ...also, will us flaming out in round one cost us the ability to attract Melo or Love, etc...?


    I disagree that this piece "reflects what the Rockets fan base largely feels". For sure, the naysayers are much more vocal and the naysayers who have been saying all along that McHale was the wrong coach, D12 is getting long in the tooth and is mentally weak and that Harden is too full of himself right now are blasting their trumpets as loud as they can during the adversity the Rockets are going through this playoff season.

    You asked "Maybe there were just no 3pt shooters available last summer?" and "maybe the Rockets couldn't afford any since they signed D12 (to his max contract}"?

    Well, just go check the NBA Team Statistics for 2014 Regular Season and guess which team finished first overall in 3 pointers made. Yep, the Rockets. So instead of the Rockets supposedly not having enough 3 point shooters, perhaps the question that should be posed (as I have over and over again the past couple of days on this board) is what is up with the Rockets outside shooting in this series? Is that perhaps at least part of the reason why we are down 0-2? It's easy to point fingers and blame it on poor defensive strategy on Aldridge or lack of a playbook, etc., etc. but man, a few open shots going in the basket and this would be a completely different series! The Rockets have had plenty of wide open shots and they just haven't been dropping. This is the NBA. It happens. It just sucks when it happens to our team!

    I think a little more positivity on this board would go a long way. Like D12 said yesterday, no series is over until one team wins 4 games and Portland so far has won just 2 games meaning this series isn't over. Admittedly even from me, the likelihood of the Rockets overcoming the 0-2 series deficit is going to be difficult, especially with such a young team. However, shouldn't we be supporting our team through their adversity and not prematurely burying them and calling for the heads of anyone?

    There will be ample time after the post-season to reflect, learn lessons and move forward with any necessary changes. This is the NBA and there are always some changes after each and every season.
  • Alituro says 6 months ago

    Oh, and Uh, Rebounds... Rebounds Rebounds Rebounds... Game one HOU/POR: 59/54 Game 2: 42/43... In order to win tonight we need to absolutely dominate the boards by any means necessary. A rebounding edge of (10) will be enough to guarantee a win in a series that has been so close. It's also a stat that anybody can earn with enough effort. It's also the main thing that fuels both team's offenseses. The effort there will make all the difference.

  • Alituro says 6 months ago

    Great points and reflects what I think this fan base largely feels. I thought all season that what this team needs is a 3 and D perimeter player. Now it looks like we also need a mobile post defender as well. ...but granted, there are only a few Aldridge, Bosh, Dirk type players to drive us this mad.

    Also, is it me or is our 3pt shooting something awful. I know people think Morey is great and all, and maybe players are just cold shooting right now, but for a team run on a huge stress for 3pt shots, we have none that can make them. Harden has struggled, Parsons' shot looks terrible at times, and Lin tries but is only so good. That one is on Morey. Maybe there were just no 3pt shooters available last summer? maybe we couldn't afford them after paying Dwight his money, but it exposes us over and over and shots bang off the rim.

    ...also, will us flaming out in round one cost us the ability to attract Melo or Love, etc...?

    The problem is, most 3-point specialists don't have much else to offer, liabilities on D (like we need more), not great playmakers and inept under the hoop among the trees.. That's why Canaan is still on the bench and Daniels is having a hard time cracking the rotation. We played Brooks a bit, but he could drive the lane damn well.

  • Alituro says 6 months ago

    I still feel this series is far from over.. Maybe just the homer in me. But, when the opposition's best player has two back to back best nights of his career, and we were in it at the end in both games, I still like our chances to pull one out tonight, and if that happens then the whole series is blown wide open, IMO. We won't come back from 0-3, so.. tonight we gotta turn it around, tonight. We need to turn it up to 11. I refuse to blame McHale for our failures, because if "In Morey we Trust" is our motto, then it must ring true through all of his personnel decisions. I don't think McHale will be gone after a 1st round exit either. I believe he is executing exactly as Morey tells him to, especially without any lofty expectations for this season. I believe Morey wants to run his offensive philosophy into the ground and step back and analyze the flaws in it in it's entirety this summer. Tweak it some by introducing set plays for those situations where his read- and-react had failed, and work to incorporate those plays with the team and coaching staff. McHale is smart and been through the trenches, he also knows he is in the midst of a philosophy that is innovative and could possibly change the way the game is played from here on out. He will mold into whatever Morey wants him to be, and that's who he is today. This was never supposed to be the season we achieve great heights, those are coming up. McHale is part of this team, one of the guys. If you replace him, it will put you behind another season at least while the team acclimates to a new coach and philosophy. So, for all you hoping it's the end of this coach, don't get your hopes up too much yet.

    I expect D-mo to put some minutes on LMA tonight, and I expect the physicality towards LMA from D-mo and Asik to get ramped up and use at least 11/12 fouls available to them, maybe bruise an elbow or rib (inadvertently of course). Why don't we double LMA on the ball? Because he's alone, 19' away from our closest help most times and with his quick release, has his shot off before the help gets halfway there. Not to mention as well as being a deadly shooter, he's also a wily veteran and will see it coming from (almost) a mile away. D-mo has the length and speed to bother him, and his jittery energy is enough to bounce anyone off a wall. D-mo, unlike Asik, also has the possibility of making Aldridge work on the other end of the court too, which can only help our cause. Regardless of how LMA does, it's how we handle the other guys on defense that's going to determine our fate.

  • John P says 6 months ago

    Great points and reflects what I think this fan base largely feels. I thought all season that what this team needs is a 3 and D perimeter player. Now it looks like we also need a mobile post defender as well. ...but granted, there are only a few Aldridge, Bosh, Dirk type players to drive us this mad.

    Also, is it me or is our 3pt shooting something awful. I know people think Morey is great and all, and maybe players are just cold shooting right now, but for a team run on a huge stress for 3pt shots, we have none that can make them. Harden has struggled, Parsons' shot looks terrible at times, and Lin tries but is only so good. That one is on Morey. Maybe there were just no 3pt shooters available last summer? maybe we couldn't afford them after paying Dwight his money, but it exposes us over and over and shots bang off the rim.

    ...also, will us flaming out in round one cost us the ability to attract Melo or Love, etc...?

  • Johnny Rocket says 6 months ago

    It has been tough digesting these last two losses, but Rockets fans need to take a collective chill pill. Yes, the Rockets basically collapsed down the stretch in both games, the defensive schemes have been suspect, and Harden has been terrible on both ends. And Alridge has played at historically great levels. And you know what? We almost won both games! Even in game two, we are down three with 30 seconds to play. In this light, I don't understand the basic logic of Rahat's post, which veers between 1) the Rockets are irreparably flawed because of poor coaching and poor leadership; and 2) we could still win this series. Both could be true, I guess, but how do we evaluate the Rockets if they come back and advance to the second round? Will we forget these posts and latch onto the overcoming adversity narrative? Will we suddenly remember that McHale was an absolutely great playoff performer who knows what it takes to win a championship? And even if we lose the series, if San Antonio, Oklahoma, and Indiana also all lose in the first round--a real possibility!--does that change the way we think of our team?

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