Preview: Detroit Pistons @ Houston Rockets

Tonight is a back-to-back game for both teams – the Rockets were in Memphis doing battle with the Grizzlies, while the Pistons roll into town after a tough game in OKC. The thing is, every game has been a tough game for the Pistons thus far – they’ve lost every one (including the season opener against us) to come in with a league-worst 0-6 record. It continues a trend of starting seasons badly for the Pistons, who began last year with a catastrophic 4-20 record and the year before 0-5.

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Memphis Grizzlies 93, Houston Rockets 85

“What do you think is the best publicly available defensive metric?”

“None really.”

That was one of Daryl Morey’s responses on a Reddit chat that he conducted this September.  (Yes, really.  It’s quite fascinating.)  In interviews he has repeatedly stressed the importance of defense and stated that to make the Conference Finals, much less the Finals and the ultimate crown, without a top 10 defense is basically impossible.  Much of the search for a big man post-Yao has focused more on the big man like Tyson Chandler who can defend, rebound, and sometimes score putbacks.

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Apart from “points off turnovers,” almost all of basketball’s statistics tend to separate offense and defense as two different systems geared towards the common goal of winning. However, unlike football or baseball—where the two groups are understandably divided—the relationship between offense and defense in basketball is much more fluid, and far more complex.

With a steal, turnover, or made basket, any five-man unit can go from offense to defense (and vice versa) in the blink of an eye. Possessions rarely go longer than 20 seconds, and one might think both sides of the ball would have a clearer statistical correlation. This doesn’t appear to be the case.

But in Houston, a direct alliance could exist this season between their offense and defense—particularly if Kevin McHale continues to deploy an up-tempo, free-throw/three-point heavy style—with one helping the other perform at a much higher level than we all thought possible. [read more…]






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Denver Nuggets 93, Houston Rockets 87

I’m enjoying these new Rockets, but my forehead’s getting a little sore. For a fun project, I decided to tally up how many times I reflexively slapped my hand against my forehead while watching tonight’s game. It turns out the number was fifteen, and the last tally mark was by far the biggest. That last tally mark let the Nuggets seal the game.

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