I think those of you who have been with me since my pre-law school and law school days understand that with the introduction of ever-evolving life duties, I just am simply unable to maintain the pace of content consistency that characterized those earlier days of Red94. A rough week at work coupled with a medical procedure for my wife made the timing of this year’s West semifinals non-negotiable for my writing duties. Thus, my absence since Houston’s disposal of the Oklahoma City Thunder in Round 1.
I’ve had ample time to reflect now since the Rockets’ elimination on Thursday night in what I called the most pathetic, embarrassing display in Houston sports history. Those of you who join me regularly on Twitter already have been given a sneak peek into my current mindset. While I haven’t before today taken to longform, I’ve been following along in the background, observing the pulse of the fanbase and the larger basketball community regarding the so-very-public total humiliation of our dear local team. I don’t really have the emotional energy for this, given that our Game 7 tip-off was to be in three hours (at the time of writing), but the limiting constraints of Twitter have proven obstructive in my quest for catharsis.
I went back and watched all eleven of Russell Westbrook’s fourth quarter shot attempts from Sunday afternoon. Overall, he went 5/11 in that deciding quarter. He took a pair of atrocious leaning three-pointers in hopes of getting fouled, late in the quarter, but the game was already out of hand at that point, so I won’t hold those shots against him.
Here, he walks into a long ‘3’, tying the game. You live with that. Westbrook isn’t a particularly great three-point shooter, and after he gets Anderson to switch onto him, that’s your best bet.
Down just one, he looks to post up Beverley, missing the turnaround.
As I wrote yesterday, it might be time for Mike D’Antoni to shake up the starting lineup with how terrible the Rockets have looked to start each half. One possibility would be to slide Trevor Ariza to the ‘4’, and bring in either Lou Williams or Eric Gordon as a replacement for Ryan Anderson. The other option would be to start Game 4’s hero, Nene, in place of Clint Capela, the latter of whom was a -25 in the box score yesterday afternoon, and overall, has not had a good series, aside from a few moments here and there.
Capela overall has struggled with the Thunder’s length and physicality. Here, Adams contests Harden, but look how fast Westbrook and Roberson converge, causing Capela to fumble the pass out of bounds.