On Lin, McHale, and a ’95 memory

Whether we win or lose Game 6 now is irrelevant.  They made us proud.  They made it a competitive series.  That’s the only thing that we could have asked for.

  • While the odds are still against them, the Rockets actually have a chance to make history.  You could sense from the opening tip last night that the dynamics of this series have completely shifted, even two games removed from the Westbrook injury.  I had expected the Thunder to come out, step on the Rockets’ throats, and put them away early.  Instead, they came out flat.  That ‘fear’ that Houston had in Game 1 is now completely gone.  Whether it’s the absence of Westbrook, the confidence from the Game 4 victory, or something else, the Rockets no longer are in awe or fear of the Thunder.  The Rockets feel they can beat this team.
  • It’s amazing how much one player can mean to a team.  Aside from Durant, the Thunder just don’t have that aura about them anymore, now that Westbrook is gone; they no longer have that swagger.  They’re now just any other team, aside from having the 2nd greatest player in the world.  They were tentative all game long, looking as confused as Houston did in Game 1.
  • Before the Westbrook injury, one point made by many was that in the Finals, for the Thunder to have a chance, Ibaka would have to be the key.  I think it was Barkley who said “Ibaka has to be the best big man on the floor; he has to outplay Chris Bosh.”  We’re now seeing that the Thunder wouldn’t have had a chance.  Ibaka has had some emphatic blocks, but overall, has pretty much been a non-factor in this series.  He should be torturing the Rockets down low, or at least on the glass, but he hasn’t done that.
  • Why is such a big deal made that Westbrook is out, with no mention made of Lin?  Yes, obviously, Westbrook is on a whole different stratosphere from Lin.  But absolute value isn’t the point.  It’s relative value–what the players mean to each team–that matters.  And while Lin isn’t as big a second option for us as Russ was for the Thunder, he was still a very big part of our team.  Yet we’re playing without him and have managed to plug the hole with other guys.  Why isn’t that a story?  For example: let’s say someone steals $500,000 from a man with $1,000,000.  That’s a huge loss of money.  But if a man with $50,000 is robbed of $25,000, just because the absolute amount he’s lost is less doesn’t mean he hasn’t been injured just as much.  In fact, he’s been injured even more than the millionaire because he had less overall to fall back on!  That’s the case with the Rockets.  The basic point here is this: Lin is nowhere near as good as Westbrook.  But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been a big loss.  He was a big part of this team.  This should in some way be a story.
  • I got killed on Twitter by Lin devotees for suggesting that even if he’s healthy, the Rockets should not play Lin in Game 6.  I just don’t see how they can afford to tinker with the chemistry they’ve built off of these wins.  Sure, Lin can bring some things.  He’ll push the tempo and attack the rim.  But who do you sit?  I don’t want to sit Garcia for even a minute more than needed.  And Aaron Brooks, at this point, with his soft shooting touch, and complete ownage of Derek Fisher, is just a bigger offensive threat than Lin.  If we somehow live to get to the second round, we can re-evaluate.  But right now, we have to stay with what’s working.
  • It’s so interesting how the game is made of matchups and certain advantages can totally shift the balance of power in a team’s favor.  And every once in a while, you’ll get a matchup between subs that is such a complete and utter mismatch that you can’t help but sit back in awe.  That’s the case with Brooks-Fisher where the former can, essentially, get past the latter at will.  It’s been a pleasure to watch, just as simple retribution for Fisher’s many sins.
  • It’s bizarre to think that Aaron Brooks is actually back and 2) that he was the initial domino in this revolving door of fringe All-Star point guards: Brooks exploded in the ’09 playoffs, won the MIP, then got hurt, then Lowry exploded in his absence, then the team traded Brooks for Dragic, then Lowry got hurt, then Dragic exploded while Lin also exploded in New York, then the team let both Lowry and Dragic go and brought back Lin.  And now Aaron Brooks is the last man standing.  It had to be this way.
  • Watching Durant carry the scoring load while also bringing the ball up on his own while his teammates stand around incompetently is eerily reminiscent of the McGrady era.
  • Those of you who wondered how Kevin Martin would fare if we ever made the playoffs, once the whistles stopped blowing, have your answer.
  • A story: I just logged onto NBA.com to take another look at the box score before writing this and the video loaded with the audio that “the Rockets stave off elimination.”  Of course I already knew that, but it kind of brought back a memory from ’95 when I was just 9 years old.  I, of course, being just 9, had to be in bed by 10:30 at the latest.  This meant that I could only watch the first half of west coast games.  So anyways, I believe it was Game 5 with the Rockets trailing the series 3-1 against Phoenix when, after watching the first half, I had to retire to bed not knowing if the season would be over.  When I woke up, I again had no way of knowing what had happened.  There was no internet to just log onto for a recap.  But back in those days–or maybe still now–they would have a sports update at the 20th minute of every hour on 740AM.  So before my dad left for work, I asked him to listen and then call me.  I got ready for school, waiting for the call.  He then called during breakfast and told me the Rockets had won in overtime.  I think he also told me the leading scorers as well.  I couldn’t believe they had pulled it off.  It’s amazing how much things have changed.  This is probably one of my favorite memories as a Rockets fan.
  • Finally, on Kevin McHale, to whom the game ball goes: he’s basically pushed all the right buttons in this series, filling the lineup card perfectly and flustering the Thunder offense with the correct defensive adjustments.  It’s been his call to put Garcia on Durant, and his call to trap Durant and pack the paint.  One of the best parts of these wins has been the look of pride in McHale’s eyes in the postgame pressers in talking about his players.  There was a great sound byte late in the 4th last night, during a timeout where McHale was motivating his troops: “come on boys, you can do this!”  It was great for so many reasons.  But you got the sense of a father watching his child learning to walk, encouraging him when he stumbles, and beaming when he finally takes that step.  Afterwards, McHale summed it up perfectly: “I just wanted these kids to experience this.”  And that’s what this season has been all about.  Win or lose in Game 6, the Rockets accomplished their goals.

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Total comments: 31
  • Dan G says 11 months ago

    Well besides that posterizing of Durant, Delfino has been a no show. I forgot about that play.
  • Dan G says 11 months ago

    I think Lin should take Delfino's minutes. Delfino has been a total no show for the playoffs, and that would give time to both Lin and Brooks.
  • RollingWave says 11 months ago

    Lin wasn't very ball dominant this season at all, he has a USG% around 20%, which is lower than any PG not named Steve Nash (which also goes to the point that while Harden can ball hog at times, he's not really in the Kobe territory.)

    Fisher is a very adept comp to Beverly though.

    One should also note that Harden doesn't take care of the ball as well as Kobe, part of that is because he tries to distribute more though.

    Harden is a lot of things, but he isn't really a PG if you look at his assist to turn over ratio, he's also not Kobe, though there is a lot of simularity between those two from a statistical POV (and he's not Jordan, who's just in a different realm) I don't think what applies to Kobe neccesasrily applies to Harden.

    I still think the team has a better ceiling if they can have Harden and Lin figure it out better with some more chemistry, but simply in terms of winning tomorrow , Beverly is the better choice for a lot of reasons.

    Also, while Lin isn't a great defender, he's not Brooks bad.

  • Alituro says 11 months ago

    The point is with McHale playing A LOT of small ball this series, there's potentially 144 minutes to split between the 4 guards (3 positions), I'm sure there will be no hesitation to insert Lin for significant minutes as long as he is capable.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 11 months ago Lin only has three areas of weakness that if he can fix he can become an all star. Jumpshot, left hand dribbling and better 1v1 defense. I think that realistically it's two - three years down the road.
  • 2016Champions says 11 months ago

    I agree, Brooks and Lin can destroy Fisher alot more than Beverley can. But the problem is that they don't really get the chance because Harden takes the ball out of their hands.

  • Johnny33 says 11 months ago

    Fisher can't guard Brooks, but as we saw last season - he can't guard Lin either.

    If Lin is 100% he should play. He was a big part of this team all season and should be given the opportunity to play, win or lose. Even if it's 10-15 minutes off the bench. But if he plays, he needs to be aggressive and he can't think about the injury - he just has to be in attack-mode.
  • 2016Champions says 11 months ago

    Brooks and Lin are players who look like scrubs when they don't have the ball in their hands, but look like studs if you let them dominate the ball.

    Why do you think Kobe and Jordan never played next to ball dominating pg? Because they wouldn't compliment each other.

    Beverley compliments Harden the same way Mario Chalmers compliments Wade and Lebron, the same way Fisher complimented Kobe, and the same way Harper/Kerr complimented Jordan and Pippen--it's a perfect fit--it's all about doing all the little things really well and not trying to do too much with the ball.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 11 months ago Are people overvaluing Brooks? I agree that from a chemistry standpoint you can't take Beverley out, but brooks? Maybe I'm just seeing things when I see a scrub?
  • 2016Champions says 11 months ago

    Yeah I had mixed feelings on that technical, it looked dumb but at the same time you had to like how Beverley wasn't backing down from all the drama.

  • Steven says 11 months ago Maybe he is talking bout the technical he got. But that was needed to put the Thunder in their place.
  • thejohnnygold says 11 months ago

    Beverley's first half "antics"? I'm not sure what you mean....

    I don't think he did anything that hurt us...did I miss something?

  • khyberjones says 11 months ago

    Lin should play. He was key to the Rockets' playoff push and he has skills that this Rockets team needs. Long playoff series provide opportunities for a lot of players to bounce back or redeem themselves. It would be foolish to assume that the current Houston lineup can beat OKC, or that Scott Brooks will manage the next game as poorly as he did the last game. The fact that Houston needed all of Brooks' minutes in Game 5 to win is a case in point. Brooks is an unlikely hero but no one would say that he isn't capable if on his game. Same is true for Lin, who has demonstrated in several games this year that he can be the best or second best player on the floor. Beverley is limited and nearly cost them the game with his first half antics. Jackson had more of a rhythm with Beverley on the floor than he did with Brooks. With Delfino looking hobbled, Houston could use the extra player. If Jeremy is healthy, he should play, and he will likely make a good contribution to winning.
  • Alituro says 11 months ago

    Lin is just another weapon we have at our disposal if needed. Yes bring him off the bench and see how it goes.

    McHale has been brilliant with his rotations, particularly in last game. I take back an earlier comment I made some weeks ago about him being reactive rather than proactive, now he's turned it around and is causing Scotty to react in this series. When playing a guard-heavy rotation,there are plenty of minutes for Lin to share alongside Bev, AB and Harden. Yes AB's shooting has been paltry particularly from deep, but alot of it has to do with him becoming acclimated to the system, still, I have rarely seen such dependable accuracy and creativity from a PG when making shots from within 12' or so. He's really got the math down pat on those high-arching floaters. It is such an important shot for a team to have in it's arsenal and one that no one else does well on our team, that I think it behooves us to keep him in the rotation. We all know Harden is going to drive the lane, and we know that Bev rarely looks for his own shots, but with Brooks on the floor along with Harden, with that floater, he is impossible for the defense to ignore and it opens up a plethora of different options for our offense.

  • Richards says 11 months ago

    I hope Lin is cleared to play and dresses for the game. Then depending on how the game is going, Coach McHale can have one extra player to plug in if the need arises. If the Rockets are struggling, and Lin is good to go, why not insert Lin for an extra energy boost? Otherwise I think it would be best to go with the current rotations while we continue leading in the game and assuming we are scoring efficiently.

    Make sense.

    I also think that current success is more to do with mixing it up. And absent of Westbrook.

    Forget OKC's strategy for a minute, even we have no idea Gacia and Brooks will be playing more minutes.

    Right before playoffs, we all believe Smith will be on court for long. I think OKC doesn't have enough time to prepare. Lin's game time decision also confused them a bit.

  • rockets best fan says 11 months ago

    I hope Lin is cleared to play and dresses for the game. Then depending on how the game is going, Coach McHale can have one extra player to plug in if the need arises. If the Rockets are struggling, and Lin is good to go, why not insert Lin for an extra energy boost? Otherwise I think it would be best to go with the current rotations while we continue leading in the game and assuming we are scoring efficiently.

    I also agree. if it's not broken no need to start working on it :rolleyes:

  • feelingsupersonic says 11 months ago Hard to argue with that, good point Rocketrick.
  • rocketrick says 11 months ago I hope Lin is cleared to play and dresses for the game. Then depending on how the game is going, Coach McHale can have one extra player to plug in if the need arises. If the Rockets are struggling, and Lin is good to go, why not insert Lin for an extra energy boost? Otherwise I think it would be best to go with the current rotations while we continue leading in the game and assuming we are scoring efficiently.
  • RollingWave says 11 months ago

    If Lin isn't 100%, they shouldn't play him at this point yes, if he is, then McHale should and probably will consider working him back into the rotation.

    This is the playoffs, if your not helping a team, you shouldn't play, while Lin has been decent this year, he's not say.. Derrick Rose, where even if he was 60-70% he probably help the Bulls, Lin can't help unless he's 90%+ at least.

    Lin isn't made as much of a story because Beverly has been a better fit for the Rockets as they are constructed, long term is a different quesiton that should be answered ... well... long term. also because folks assume it's because Beverly > Lin and instead ignore the difference of coaching, if there is one thing this series really proves it's that McHale almost definately should be louded for his work.

    I approve of Harden's bounce back, though I'd figure that he's not going to go 7-7 mostly on step back 3s again, that still worries me a bit, the ball movement yesterday at times was still less than ideal.

  • feelingsupersonic says 11 months ago Forget the numbers on Brooks and just give it the eye test, the answer is pretty clear to me. As far as considering history goes that would also point to playing Brooks (which is recent history for me since I have been watching the Rockets since the mid 80's) and definitely not Lin who is in his first ever playoffs. And that's enough Lin talk for me, on to what are much more important subjects me.

    How about Harden bouncing back from his bad game and playing with a swagger that is contagious to all the Rockets at the same time reminding the Thunder that they are now just some other team in the playoffs. That is the trickle down effect a superstar like Harden can have. Sure there will be a game here and there where Parsons or someone else steps up but this is James Harden's team and as he navigates his way through this series with every personal success and failure he goes through he is learning and completing his transformation as the Rockets' superstar of the next era. At the end of the game it was reported that McHale was urging to Harden to take one more shot as the clock ran out and I believe that was more about him telling Harden to keep on doing whatever he did to win that game and not so much about that bucket as many reading about it will misinterpret it.

    Speaking of McHale and the Rockets coaching staff, what a great job they have done and if there was any doubt that they deserved credit for this season I believe they have removed doubts. They have pushed the right buttons all year long and how far this team has gotten is in part a testament to McHale, Sampson and all the other assistants.
  • bob schmidt says 11 months ago

    I wouldn't tinker with this recent lineup regardless of how Lin feels for whatever is left of this series. Like him or not, Brooks has had a great handle and our turnovers are within reason right now. We should not risk losing his steadying influence by changing our lineup. As hard as everyone is playing, Lin's moment of opportunity will come. Hopefully, he will be up to the challenge of performing when it does.
  • tombrokeoff says 11 months ago

    I agree that the less tinkering at this point, the better. no need to disrupt whats been working. and brooks has been a surprise. im not a fan of some of the 3s he takes, but that could be said about a # of our long range attempts. as far as mchale. im still upset with the on-going issue regarding crunch time in a close game and going to hero ball. i know the blame there could be put on harden or mchale, but ultimately i lay the responsiblilty on mchale to correct the issue. luckily we didnt have to witness it last night. last nights game was just so strange with the very early Hack Asik to the Thunder looking like they were the ones on the road, trying to stave off elimination.

    i tweeted something along these lines earlier today: Forget about it being a nightmare season for Dwight Howard. It's more of a nightmare season for Durant. He lost Harden at the beginning of the year and Westbrook at the end. Now his #1 seed might just lose to the #8 seed all while being UP 3-0!

  • Freebird says 11 months ago

    I say let Lin rest until game 7 (assuming there is one). If we need him to take minutes, then perhaps Delfino's (while his foot is sore).

    We have the most flexible lineup in the playoffs, it seems. We mix and match to need, and I think Lin is better suited to play against a slower team (Memphis or Clips, either). Give him time then.

    Brooks has everyone's number. He is just faster than everyone else.

  • thenit says 11 months ago

    I actually would sit Lin for the series and the insert him if we somehow manage to advance, because then its a new ball game. At this point I wouldn't insert him for this series.

    Also people who was calling Westbrook, westbrick and overrated etc, just proved his point by being out of the OKC team. They don't look like a dominant team and all that dynamic chaos he creates to open up space for KD and the rest of the OKC team proves what a big playmaker he is for that team. Just want to point that out.

  • wph342711 says 11 months ago

    Brooks made a few memorableshots last night, made more memorable by the surprise factor more than anything else. He also shot 4-11 (0-3 on 3s) and is shooting 9-28 for the series. Yet somehow he's killing Derek Fisher? Pretty sure a healthy Jeremy can beat Derek Fisher (last time they went head to head as starters he dropped 38 on him in MSG).Jeremy was hurt Game 3 and shouldn't have been playing and hurt the team in his short stint out there.But to now say that a healthy version of him also doesn't create a mismatch problem against Derek Fisher or even Reggie Jackson is simply ignoring history. Anddoes Brooks bring anything else to the table besides scoring - if he's not scoring at an efficient rate, which he hasn't in a single game sincehe's been back from China, why does he earn the benefit of the doubt?


    Bring Jeremy off the bench, see how he's doing, and go from there. No one is advocating they hand him back the starting PG position automatically.But to say Brooks should categorically play over him is 1) an overreaction, and 2) an innacurate overreaction if you actually look at how Brooks has been performing.

  • feelingsupersonic says 11 months ago How are you doing John and welcome to Red94.

    I have also thought that Lin would make for a good sixth man but as for the series that the Rockets are in right now, I do not believe he needs to be reinserted in the rotation. What McHale has crafted at this very moment is working and does not need to be tampered with. What Beverley brings as far as energy and intangibles cannot be measured out by metrics or in the box score and Aaron Brooks has Fisher's number as well as just enough playoff experience from another Rockets era to have him hungry every time he steps on the court against the Thunder. The last time Lin was on the court in this series and healthy he was timid, not focused and just not what the Rockets need right now especially considering the fact that of the Rockets 'big four' he is most likely to be traded now since he is quickly becoming more of a contract than a player.

    Maybe there is a good argument to bring Lin back in the next series if the Rockets were to advance but we are pretty far from that discussion still.
  • John P says 11 months ago

    I have thought for a while now that Lin should be our 6th man, like Harden did for the Thunder. He can come in at the end of the 1st, beginnning of the 2nd and run the offense, keep the tempo up, get his own shot etc... His need for the ball to be successful too much mirrors Harden's and they could be more effective operating separately then together. Beverly, or Brooks, as more of a point shooter/driver with better range than Lin, works better to let Harden control the ball. Its not that Lin is bad or anything, just not as good as Harden with too similar a game. May Lin be the next Manu? I doubt it but it would be something good to try.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 11 months ago Brooks. A fully healthy Lin needs all the minutes brooks is getting. Garcia needs to be on the court to guard durant
  • timetodienow1234567 says 11 months ago Brooks. A fully healthy Lin needs all the minutes brooks is getting. Garcia needs to be on the court to guard durant
  • Rahat Huq says 11 months ago

    ^How is it overboard? You only have so many minutes to go around. Who out of Harden, Beverley, Brooks, and Garcia are you going to sit? If you aren't going to sit any of them and want to just decrease their minutes to squeeze Lin in, that also has effects: players need a minimum of minutes to get into rhythms and players also get used to certain combinations. It makes a big difference throwing a new guy in there. Why tinker it when its not broken?

  • timetodienow1234567 says 11 months ago I agree that Lin shouldn't be starting but to say not to play him at all is overboard.