More on Trevor Ariza, Harden’s last shot

This sequence is the sort that underscores my frustration with Trevor Ariza.  Unless its a wide open ‘3’, he has trouble doing anything constructive with the ball.  Due to his waning athleticism, he can’t finish over the top like most wings his size, and he doesn’t have the touch to finish with a floater, or the skill to use any misdirection to at least buy himself some space against the defender, the way you see done by guys like Eric Gordon or Lou Williams.  What really hurts the offense though are the plays when he has to make something happen out on the perimeter against pressure defense.  Since he can only dribble in straight lines, once he’s chased off the three-point line, he usually ends up in a crowd somewhere in the paint.  I wasn’t able to find a clip of this since NBA.com doesn’t index-categorize ‘awkward near-turnovers’.  Trevor is okay as a backup power forward, because the threat of the ‘3’ is enough to serve utility at that point, but when he’s at small forward, I find myself just longing for a true threat at that spot.  You see just how ridiculous the Rockets look the second one of Lou Williams or Eric Gordon checks in, as a secondary ball-handler.  With Patrick Beverley’s emergence, if they had that kind of threat (without the defensive liability) in the starting lineup, they could really go to the next level.  Houston has bigger weaknesses, at the defensive end.  But if they’re committed to playing small and outscoring people, they probably fundamentally won’t be able to address those.  In that case, they’ll need to get even better offensively, in my opinion, and the Ariza spot is the obvious area for improvement.

So far in the series, Ariza is averaging 5 points per game on 33% shooting, and 0% on 3’s.  On the year, he shot 40.8% overall and 34.3% on 3’s.  That just won’t cut it.

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Defending the Houston Rockets – Part 4

I was pretty worried about the way the Rockets started the game out last night with a flurry of turnovers, wondering if there was some change in Oklahoma City’s coverage.  Thus, I went back and watched all of the team’s first quarter turnovers.

 

Capela is basically wide open right under the rim, waiting for the dunk, but Harden lost it. Roberson stays at home, chasing him all the way to the basket, but that isn’t a departure from the Thunder’s normal coverage.

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All thoughts Game 3 related

  • I never thought this was going to be a sweep, despite what the national media is telling you about the disparity in these supporting casts.  That’s a talented team over there, and one with the ability present problems for the Rockets.  The Thunder played basically perfect basketball, and the Rockets still had a chance to win it at the end.  I can live with that.
  • I am perfectly fine with the shot taken by James Harden to close the game.  On the road, with Beverley already fouled out, and Harden himself playing with five fouls, I don’t know that overtime is an endeavor the team would be willing to undertake.  More importantly, with Adams already back, there’s no way Harden would have gotten a call upon inevitably being clobbered.  I’ve seen the Rockets lose far too many games these past few years in that fashion to think that a drive should ever be the play.  A clean look at the ‘3’ was the way to go.
  • Have I mentioned how over Trevor Ariza I am?  I feel guilt when making such a declaration, primarily because he’s meant so much to this team these past few years in its unlikely success.  He’s brought leadership, toughness, and a no-nonsense attitude.  But man, it’s cringe-inducing to watch him drive into a crowd or string together more than even two dribbles.  It looked even worse last night when things were as heavily contested as they were.  Sometimes I like to daydream what this offense would look like with a competent offensive player at that spot.  Not that this offense needs any improvement; except that you can always get better.
  • Nothing makes me want to throw my remote at the television more than when Ryan Anderson passes up open shots.  Even if he’s 0-100.  I feel better about an open Ryan Anderson ‘3’ than maybe any other shot possibility.
  • So what’s the narrative today?  I can see how many in media might be struggling collectively at reconciling their emotions.  Russ got his triple double, but James Harden won the scoring battle.  More importantly, the Thunder’s supposed D-League quality supporting cast showed up in a big way, outplaying Houston’s supposed star-studded cast.  Was it a fluke?  Was it a one-day thing?






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