# Previewing Rockets/Thunder: The Chaos Principle and ’3rd and long’

It all starts tomorrow.  The matchup for which the national media had been begging.  If the Rockets somehow pull it off, by some act of divine intervention, it would surely be the greatest upset in NBA history.  What distinguishes this from Golden State over Dallas (currently considered the greatest upset) is the storyline element of the banished son returning to conquer and reclaim disinherited lands.  Or something like that.

In my mind, there are only a few ways this series can play out.  If Houston wins game 1, either Houston or Oklahoma City will win in 7.  If Oklahoma City wins game 1, Houston’s only chance at winning a game in the series is in Game 3, and the Thunder will win the series in either 4 or 5 games.  Thus, there is only one scenario by which Houston can win this series.  Note that this analysis was in no way based on any relevant mathematical data and was largely pulled out of my ass and thought up in the shower this morning.

This is basically the football equivalent of ’3rd and long.’  For those of you unfamiliar with football, ’3rd and long’ is a scenario which, when the Houston Texans are on 3rd down and in need of over 20 yards to reach the 1st down marker, essentially calls for Matt Schaub to hand the ball off to his running back  for a gain of like five inches.  The team then punts the ball on the next possession.  This is a set of events which should be avoided in all aspects of life.

When the odds are stacked against you, to succeed, you can’t play it safe.  You must introduce chaos and random variables to improve your chances at winning.  In example, Oklahoma City, by any evaluative measure, is a far, far, far better team than the Houston Rockets.  If the two teams were to play 10 times, with no variables (ie: playing the same way they played in the regular season) the probability would hold that the Thunder would win a majority, based on the historical data available (ie: everything that just happened over the last 82 games).  Thus, the logic would bear that the Rockets, to increase their odds at winning, would increase variables to escape the set probability.  Again, doing what’s expected has already proven to be inferior and will bear out a predictable outcome.  (Through this, we can also hereby conclude that because this is what the logic holds, Kevin McHale will do the complete opposite.  I kid, I kid.  I won’t go there for today.)

How can the Rockets introduce variables?  Well, for one, they can shoot more 3′s.  By intrinsic nature, an inordinate volume of 3′s always give the inferior opponent a greater chance against his counterpart just due to the greater expected value of each shot, in comparison to 2 pointers.  But this is obvious – they’ll probably do this.  What else can they do?

1. They can gamble for more steals.  If they play it safe, and play their game, they can’t beat the Thunder.  The Thunder on their game are a better team than the Rockets on their game.
2. They can full-court press: If I were Houston, I would manufacture the minutes to where every one of Beverley’s minutes is against Westbrook, and then I would have Beverley trap Westbrook fullcourt the entire time.  I don’t expect this to happen.
3. I would only bench Lin when Westbrook is on the court (ie: if Westbrook is on the bench, Lin should never be on the bench.)  This has the effect of, aside from pitting Beverley’s minutes against Westbrook’s, giving Lin as many repetitions against inferior defenders.  Lin’s opportunities must be maximized.  This too is something I have no expectation of the coaching staff doing.

Jeremy Lin, as the only player other than Harden on this team who can create his own shot, is the key to the Rockets’ chances.  Asik and Parsons will likely give you what you are expecting.  Harden will probably average 30 and could be efficient but may also not be.  The rookies and Greg Smith, aside from an emotional Game 3, will most likely provide very little.  Delfino and Garcia I think will explode in at least one of the home games.  There will be ISOs in close games.  And there will be tons and tons of smallball, particularly because a) the Thunder do not have a lowpost scorer and b) as aforementioned, it is highly likely that the rookies will provide nothing.  (In fact, as I type this, I’d almost consider ditching everything and starting Delfino at power forward with Garcia as his backup and just tossing aside the rookies altogether.  That adds more chaos.)

In any event, we forget that in the one game in which the Rockets beat the Thunder, while Harden had 46, Lin had 29.  In fact, when Lin plays well, the Rockets almost always win.  If the Rockets are going to even have any chance in hell of winning this series, there will almost have to be sustained spurts of Linsanity.  He will have to be given freedom to operate.  However, aside from what we saw in the regular season, there is close to no chance of said freedom being given, simply due to the fact that, while logic may dictate otherwise during underdog settings, coaches tend to become even more conservative in the postseason. (More on this below).  In essence, they need to get Lin going but I don’t expect it to happen.

The upside to this is that Beverley, a great defender, will get plenty of time against Westbrook.  Of course, this ignores the fact that Lin, against conventional wisdom, is actually a more than capable defender, having forced Westbrook into 41% shooting and almost 5 turnovers per game in their head to head meetings.

Explanation: As explained, the logic holds that the best chance at winning would be to avoid the norms and go off cue.  But conversely, coaches typically do the opposite and become even more conservative.  This is largely due to the overconfidence bias whereby the actor holds an irrational belief in his abilities.  Coaches think that to win, they have to play the perfect game, and by extension, they think that there is a greater chance of their team playing the perfect game than winning by changing everything up.

Case in point: the Indiana game at Toyota Center.  Harden was completely bottled up by Paul George, the offense was stagnant, and the team was down but not out.  Instead of bringing in Lin, the only other player that can create a shot, McHale stuck with Beverley and continued feeding Harden.  His rationale was likely that “we have a better chance of doing a good job of what we do than succeeding by doing something different.”  I disagree with this thinking, but I digress as we’ve already beaten this point to death.

I actually give the Rockets a 50% chance to win Game 1.  We’ll see what happens after that, but I think the Thunder will come out sleeping and Harden will come out absolutely pissed.  If that’s enough to sustain the team for 48 minutes will be up to how the other factors bear out.

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• Steven says 10 months ago Wait you can go to Prison for a few years for killing someone and this guy gets 15 years for shaving people's beards. WTF?
• thenit says 10 months ago

Yah. I completely agree. If you try and suck at it, so be it. But the lack of effort makes me want to go Amish mafia on him : http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/09/us/amish-sect-leader-gets-15-years-in-beard-cutting-attacks.html?_r=0

Haha thats funny, not that I condone it but its funny.

Well for all of us that critized Harden during the season that he doesn't play defence and with the excuse that he did well against LBJ for a few minutes in closing minutes against the Heat, told us that in playoffs the effort and intensity would be there. I didn't see it. I love JGold suggestion that we should shame him publicly so coaching staff and Harden will acknowledge the problem unless he shows us more the remainder of the series.

ALL WE WANT IS EFFORT BY ALL ROCKETS, BUT IT STARTS WITH YOUR LEADERS !

• thejohnnygold says 10 months ago

Yah. I completely agree. If you try and suck at it, so be it. But the lack of effort makes me want to go Amish mafia on him : http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/09/us/amish-sect-leader-gets-15-years-in-beard-cutting-attacks.html?_r=0

LOL :lol:

• Futureinterest says 10 months ago Yah. I completely agree. If you try and suck at it, so be it. But the lack of effort makes me want to go Amish mafia on him : http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/09/us/amish-sect-leader-gets-15-years-in-beard-cutting-attacks.html?_r=0
• thejohnnygold says 10 months ago

I read the Lin article too....certainly a lot of people share the same sentiment around here.

If Harden can't start making the effort on defense then I say we go with my "public shaming" plan. Once an entire city mocks you for not trying it's hard to pretend it doesn't exist...We're not even asking him to be good at it...just freakin' make an effort!

• SamC says 10 months ago

Interesting article. I'm starting to wonder if Harden is letting all the hype go to his head. I would love to see Harden put more effort on the defensive end. There was a point in the game when the Rockets made a good run and ironically, it was when Harden was benched. If Harden could just put some effort on the defensive end and try to keep the ball moving rather than holding it for 5 seconds before trying to ISO, I think the Rockets have a decent chance to keep the games more competitive.

• Futureinterest says 10 months ago That was a good read. I've read some of his other articles. Here's one that rips McHale for how he treats Lin:

http://houston.culturemap.com/news/sports/03-18-13-jeremy-lin-shackeling-hurts-the-rockets-almost-treated-with-tim-tebow-disdain/
• thejohnnygold says 10 months ago

Here's an article nailing Harden to the wall for last night...never seen this writer before so take it with a grain of salt

• Steven says 10 months ago

After last night's game, anyone else here who misses 2pat?

Nope. The correct PF didn't play until the game was over. Maybe McHale will actually start Jones next game or it will be a sweep for OKC.
• thenit says 10 months ago

After last night's game, anyone else here who misses 2pat?

• thenit says 10 months ago

And the only reason Parsons and Lin wasn't on par with Harden was because they had foul trouble and sat a little more to "improve" their plus minus, sad statement there

• thejohnnygold says 10 months ago

Just to support what we already know--that without Asik on the floor we have ZERO defense--here are the starters' +/-

G. Smith -34

J. Lin -23

J. Harden -28

C. Parsons -18

O. Asik -3

...and just for fun (and to maybe rile up one or two of you) imagine that line-up replacing G.Smith with Dwight Howard.

• feelingsupersonic says 10 months ago Agreed, and not only is the gulf between the talent levels pretty big so are the differences in playoff experience and more important than anything which cannot be measured with the metrics, team chemistry. It is not that our team chemistry is bad but it is in it's infancy whereas the Thunder have a chemistry that has been forged in the fire for years now. This is David and Goliath we are watching here.
• Jason says 10 months ago

Terrible. We were completely out played and out coached. Are our talent levels really this far apart? I was not deluded into thinking we were an elite team but man we're not even close...

Typically, the style of bball we play has not done in well in the playoffs in the past for other similar teams. So I expected some drop off in our game, but wow.

Also, we're pretty much limping into the playoffs in a horrible rut having dropped like half of our games to get here... and that's without even tanking. Most of the teams have rested their players coming into the playoffs. We've done the opposite and have nothing to show for it as we still got the 8th seed. We've done a good job beating the lesser teams out there but we do have lopsided records against the elite teams...

Anyways, I just hope we have a more respectable game next time out. OKC didn't even play as well as we know they're capable of... so... I think this is going to be painful.

Reality bites.

Are our talent levels really that far apart? Yes, they are. Many on this message board overrate our talent. Bottom line is that we need more of it.
• Futureinterest says 10 months ago

Terrible. We were completely out played and out coached. Are our talent levels really this far apart? I was not deluded into thinking we were an elite team but man we're not even close...

Typically, the style of bball we play has not done in well in the playoffs in the past for other similar teams. So I expected some drop off in our game, but wow.

Also, we're pretty much limping into the playoffs in a horrible rut having dropped like half of our games to get here... and that's without even tanking. Most of the teams have rested their players coming into the playoffs. We've done the opposite and have nothing to show for it as we still got the 8th seed. We've done a good job beating the lesser teams out there but we do have lopsided records against the elite teams...

Anyways, I just hope we have a more respectable game next time out. OKC didn't even play as well as we know they're capable of... so... I think this is going to be painful.

Reality bites.

• Jason says 10 months ago

Could've really used Josh Smith last night, even with the offensive warts. Funny just how much the playoffs magnify all your weaknesses. All season long, we knew we had a poor big man rotation, we knew of Jeremy Lin's problems since last year etc. But neither of them seemed so bad. Fast forward to now and wow...

The playoffs are like being hit by a big truck.

Totally agree.
• feelingsupersonic says 10 months ago Well the thing I like about this series is that all the way from Daryl Morey at the top, to all of the coaching staff, to Harden, Asik, Parsons and Lin and all the all the way down to the bench players everyone should be learning where the weaknesses are and improve on them. OKC is the goal for the next few years and there is a lot of work to be done by all. Now let's hope they can just steal any of these games before the Thunder advance!
• 2016Champions says 10 months ago

I like how Thunder are switching on picks, it's a pretty nice strategy and it's giving us alot of problems. That's theintriguingthing about Josh Smith, if we had him we could apply the same strategy with ease.

• Rahat Huq says 10 months ago

Could've really used Josh Smith last night, even with the offensive warts. Funny just how much the playoffs magnify all your weaknesses. All season long, we knew we had a poor big man rotation, we knew of Jeremy Lin's problems since last year etc. But neither of them seemed so bad. Fast forward to now and wow...

The playoffs are like being hit by a big truck.

• 2016Champions says 10 months ago

Me three. And if we want to match up well against the Thunder, I think a PF who can take Ibaka away from the basket would be ideal. We can't let him camp under the basket like he did tonight.

So in other words, Millsap would help us against the Thunder more than Josh Smith will.

Here's what happened last time we started Delfino at the 4 against the Thunder: http://espn.go.com/nba/boxscore?gameId=400278524

Delfino didn't score much, but he was +8 (tied Lin for the best plus minus) for whatever that's worth. Imo it's the floor spacing. And the fact the Kings offense jumped leaps and bounds after the the Patterson trade reinforces this theory imo.

• Jason says 10 months ago

Well, uh......yeah.

I am so looking forward to getting an actual big man rotation for next year.

Me too
• PKM says 10 months ago

Well, uh......yeah.

I am so looking forward to getting an actual big man rotation for next year.

• Richards says 10 months ago

Agreed. Tough to put double on Durant. Put it on Westbrook, make him frustrated and commit mistakes.

Ok, If we decided double team on a player (either Durant or Westbrook), we should play Bev/Lin/Harden/Parsons/Asik line up.

• 2016Champions says 10 months ago

I don't think doubling Durant in real life works anymore, he is a much improved passer, but I guess there's no much choice otherwise he'll go off for 50.

• Jason says 10 months ago

Who guards Durant and Ibaka?

Well in NBA 2k13 I just run and gun and double on D as needed. Works like a charm.
• 2016Champions says 10 months ago

Start Lin, Harden, and Beverley together with Parsons and Asik.

You will have no choice but to let Harden guard Durant if they play Durant at the 3 and Ibaka at the 4, so you're working on the assumption that Thunder won't do that?

• thejohnnygold says 10 months ago

Yeah, no way Harden goes near Durant....pretty sure I was clear on that....but if not it is now.

I also like the way you're thinking FSS, a full court press with Harden and Lin trapping and then have Bev and Parsons behind looking for the steal.

I also like the Ibaka thought. I think 100 out of 100 people would agree that having Ibaka shoot more and Durant less is a good thing. And then you look at his shot chart...wow. Talk about picking your poison. OK, we've got to shut down everyone but Westbrook and let him take 50 shots a game.

Asik's going to get some fouls...Smith and Jones have to step up and play big...not much else to do.

In a blowout (assuming it's early in the series) let the bench get some run. We're going to need them to compete in this series.

• Steven says 10 months ago

This lineup works great in NBA 2K13 so I see no reason why it wouldn't in real life

Who guards Durant and Ibaka?
• Jason says 10 months ago

I agree with a lot of what Rahat suggests. We need to be unpredictable in order for us to not get a predictable result.

JGold, I like your lineup suggestion with going with Bev, Lin, Harden, Parsons and Asik. THis will disturb the flow, and I think it will be in our favor.

This lineup works great in NBA 2K13 so I see no reason why it wouldn't in real life
• 2016Champions says 10 months ago

That line-up suggestion would work if Durant is playing the 4, but it won't work if Durant is playing the 3 imo. Harden guarding Durant makes no sense to me.

• thenit says 10 months ago

I agree with a lot of what Rahat suggests. We need to be unpredictable in order for us to not get a predictable result.

JGold, I like your lineup suggestion with going with Bev, Lin, Harden, Parsons and Asik. THis will disturb the flow, and I think it will be in our favor.

• Jason says 10 months ago Ok, so I've thought it through and I really believe we will win this game. My rationale is that we've been shooing poorly and that has to turn around by now. We also have a nack for losing some that everyone thinks we should win (suns) and winning some everyone thinks we will lose (clippers, last OKC game). I also think Harden will get out of his funk and perform great against his old team. Rockets will win this game.
• feelingsupersonic says 10 months ago I like the idea of having Harden, Lin and Beverley in together and randomly throwing some full court press looks to disrupt and frustrate Westbrook. The question is if you go small do you want Ibaka to take extra shots in an attempt to exploit a mismatch which in turn takes shots away from Durant and Westbrook thus disrupting their offense? Also do you designate an expendable big to go in and foul the OKC bigs and wings taking it into the paint early on to set the tone/hit them in the mouth first while also gauging how the referees will call the game?

Also I have a fear that Asik might get into foul trouble in two or three games, how can that be averted?

And one more thing I was wondering what y'all thought, if we are in a blow out and it's nearing the end of the third do you throw some rookies from the end of the bench or do you make the starters suffer through it till the end?
• Drew in Abilene says 10 months ago

I think we have a decent chance to steal the first or second game. If we do that, all bets are off. I know they're considered a juggernaut, but I'm confident that if we don't go down 2-0, we can not only give them a good scare, but maybe even steal the series.

• 2016Champions says 10 months ago

We have a chance to win a game or two if they play small-ball with Durant at the 4, otherwise Ibaka at the 4 won't allow us to use Parsons at the 4.

• thejohnnygold says 10 months ago

Here's an idea....be it good or bad...

Start Lin, Harden, and Beverley together with Parsons and Asik. This gives us the stretch 4 we desire while giving us some decent D.

Harden takes Westbrook and just lags off daring him to shoot over the top. Meanwhile, Beverley takes Kevin Martin and basically takes him out of the equation. Lin can play Sefolosha fairly well as long as he respects his 3 pt. shot. Parsons tries to slow down Durant and Asik grabs all the rebounds. It could effectively turn the Thunder into Durant/Westbrook shooting long 2's and 3's with little to no help from elsewhere.

On offense, we've got 4 3-pt shooters, 4 guys who can dribble, drive, and kick or finish, and 3 solid rebounders. I wouldn't run it the whole game, but as a change of pace I think we could get some nice momentum swings from this line up.

I think it would go bad fast if OKC went with Perkins and Ibaka as we only have the one big (Asik) to defend inside and they would effectively destroy us....but if they matched us with small-ball I like our chances.

Also, call me crazy, but I have this weird notion that Beverley could effectively guard Durant. He is so quick and his hands are so fast that Durant wouldn't be able to get around him and the notion of dribbling would become a nightmare as Beverley would pick his pocket time and again....This would effectively reduce Durant to a spot-up shooter (which he is still good at, but I'll take that over the alternative)...if he posts up, we would have to double team, but Parsons and Asik would be available for that.

One thing is certain--the status quo isn't going to get it done.

• Richards says 10 months ago

You knew very well that our coaches did not have any creativity. Very conventional coach with slow to react the situation. I agreed with most of Rahat but here are my thoughts.

who should we try to contain: Durant or Westbrook. I chose Westbrook as he was easier to contain and very likely to commit mistakes when frustrated.

How should we contain, a few options though:

- put Bev on Westbrook, but this will take away Lin attacking and points, Wesbrook will score no matter what

- Put Lin on Westbrook, Lin may not be as good as Bev in defending but he had very respectable results against Westbrook

- put AB on Westbrook, maybe the worse idea

How should we attack? Here are options:

- play our own style but must move/share the ball (remember we won this way before)

- please defensive game (very likely game plan from coaches but this is not better than digging your own .....)

- shoot 3 (I did not like this idea first, but if we put a good 3, let say 33%, chance is higher than any other method)

• Jason says 10 months ago Lin has to bee spectacular for us to have a chance
• Red94 says 10 months ago New post: Previewing Rockets/Thunder: The Chaos Principle and '3rd and long'
By: rahat huq

It all starts tomorrow.  The matchup for which the national media had been begging.  If the Rockets somehow pull it off, by some act of divine intervention, it would surely be the greatest upset in NBA history.  What distinguishes this from Golden State over Dallas (currently considered the greatest upset) is the storyline element of the banished son returning to conquer and reclaim disinherited lands.  Or something like that.

In my mind, there are only a few ways this series can play out.  If Houston wins game 1, either Houston or Oklahoma City will win in 7.  If Oklahoma City wins game 1, Houston's only chance at winning a game in the series is in Game 3, and the Thunder will win the series in either 4 or 5 games.  Thus, there is only one scenario by which Houston can win this series.  Note that this analysis was in no way based on any relevant mathematical data and was largely pulled out of my ass and thought up in the shower this morning.

This is basically the football equivalent of '3rd and long.'  For those of you unfamiliar with football, '3rd and long' is a scenario which, when the Houston Texans are on 3rd down and in need of over 20 yards to reach the 1st down marker, essentially calls for Matt Schaub to hand the ball off to his running back  for a gain of like five inches.  The team then punts the ball on the next possession.  This is a set of events which should be avoided in all aspects of life.

When the odds are stacked against you, to succeed, you can't play it safe.  You must introduce chaos and random variables to improve your chances at winning.  In example, Oklahoma City, by any evaluative measure, is a far, far, far better team than the Houston Rockets.  If the two teams were to play 10 times, with no variables (ie: playing the same way they played in the regular season) the probability would hold that the Thunder would win a majority, based on the historical data available (ie: everything that just happened over the last 82 games).  Thus, the logic would bear that the Rockets, to increase their odds at winning, would increase variables to escape the set probability.  Again, doing what's expected has already proven to be inferior and will bear out a predictable outcome.  (Through this, we can also hereby conclude that because this is what the logic holds, Kevin McHale will do the complete opposite.  I kid, I kid.  I won't go there for today.)

How can the Rockets introduce variables?  Well, for one, they can shoot more 3's.  By intrinsic nature, an inordinate volume of 3's always give the inferior opponent a greater chance against his counterpart just due to the greater expected value of each shot, in comparison to 2 pointers.  But this is obvious - they'll probably do this.  What else can they do?

1. They can gamble for more steals.  If they play it safe, and play their game, they can't beat the Thunder.  The Thunder on their game are a better team than the Rockets on their game.

2. They can full-court press: If I were Houston, I would manufacture the minutes to where every one of Beverley's minutes is against Westbrook, and then I would have Beverley trap Westbrook fullcourt the entire time.  I don't expect this to happen.

3. I would only bench Lin when Westbrook is on the court (ie: if Westbrook is on the bench, Lin should never be on the bench.)  This has the effect of, aside from pitting Beverley's minutes against Westbrook's, giving Lin as many repetitions against inferior defenders.  Lin's opportunities must be maximized.  This too is something I have no expectation of the coaching staff doing.

Jeremy Lin, as the only player other than Harden on this team who can create his own shot, is the key to the Rockets' chances.  Asik and Parsons will likely give you what you are expecting.  Harden will probably average 30 and could be efficient but may also not be.  The rookies and Greg Smith, aside from an emotional Game 3, will most likely provide very little.  Delfino and Garcia I think will explode in at least one of the home games.  There will be ISOs in close games.  And there will be tons and tons of smallball, particularly because a) the Thunder do not have a lowpost scorer and b) as aforementioned, it is highly likely that the rookies will provide nothing.  (In fact, as I type this, I'd almost consider ditching everything and starting Delfino at power forward with Garcia as his backup and just tossing aside the rookies altogether.  That adds more chaos.)

In any event, we forget that in the one game in which the Rockets beat the Thunder, while Harden had 46, Lin had 29.  In fact, when Lin plays well, the Rockets almost always win.  If the Rockets are going to even have any chance in hell of winning this series, there will almost have to be sustained spurts of Linsanity.  He will have to be given freedom to operate.  However, aside from what we saw in the regular season, there is close to no chance of said freedom being given, simply due to the fact that, while logic may dictate otherwise during underdog settings, coaches tend to become even more conservative in the postseason. (More on this below).  In essence, they need to get Lin going but I don't expect it to happen.

The upside to this is that Beverley, a great defender, will get plenty of time against Westbrook.  Of course, this ignores the fact that Lin, against conventional wisdom, is actually a more than capable defender, having forced Westbrook into 41% shooting and almost 5 turnovers per game in their head to head meetings.

Explanation: As explained, the logic holds that the best chance at winning would be to avoid the norms and go off cue.  But conversely, coaches typically do the opposite and become even more conservative.  This is largely due to the overconfidence bias whereby the actor holds an irrational belief in his abilities.  Coaches think that to win, they have to play the perfect game, and by extension, they think that there is a greater chance of their team playing the perfect game than winning by changing everything up.

Case in point: the Indiana game at Toyota Center.  Harden was completely bottled up by Paul George, the offense was stagnant, and the team was down but not out.  Instead of bringing in Lin, the only other player that can create a shot, McHale stuck with Beverley and continued feeding Harden.  His rationale was likely that "we have a better chance of doing a good job of what we do than succeeding by doing something different."  I disagree with this thinking, but I digress as we've already beaten this point to death.

I actually give the Rockets a 50% chance to win Game 1.  We'll see what happens after that, but I think the Thunder will come out sleeping and Harden will come out absolutely pissed.  If that's enough to sustain the team for 48 minutes will be up to how the other factors bear out.

• feelingsupersonic says 10 months ago Nice one Steven. I was anticipating your prediction. Honestly I thought you might chime in when Richards made the "go with what is in our pants" comment. Not sure about that analogy but I think I get it.
• Steven says 10 months ago Harden goes for 50. Rockets win in 6. Sam Presti is fired before the draft.
• Sir Thursday says 10 months ago

I think trying to put a stretch 4 lineup out quite a bit is the way to go. In last year's playoffs that was how the Heat were able to cut the Thunder apart - in the face of the Lebron-as-PF lineups they wheeled out the Thunder kept both Perkins and Ibaka in the game and paid the price. Unfortunately, without Patterson and Morris we don't really have enough depth in that department to do it with any great consistency. An in form Motiejunas would be great, but I'm not sure McHale will trust him to play significant minutes given how poorly he's been playing recently.

Delfino at PF? It worked last time :P. But seriously, I think this is one of the rare teams it makes sense to roll it out against - none of the Thunder's PFs really have a post game (Ibaka is more of a pick-and-pop kind of guy and Collison is strictly a dirty-work player on offense) so the only area we'd really be giving things up potentially is in rebounding.

ST

• Richards says 10 months ago

We have to play great at Both ends to win

That is for sure. Heat didn't win the games with offense only.

I didn't want to write in long details as you all are somewhatknowledgeable.

Yes we do need to play defense but defense shouldn't be our focus. Ie, we should go with offense minded rotation and plays more.

• thejohnnygold says 10 months ago

I think we can, and should, focus on some defense as a shootout with the Thunder is not desirable in my estimation.

With Parsons doing his best to contain Durant what other match-ups can we use to try and tip the scales in our favor?

I think that Ibaka can be contained by using our stretch 4's. Jones and Motie can both draw Ibaka away from the basket on offense and limit his shot-blocking. Ibaka is not the craftiest player so on defense they should be able to contest his jumpers with a modicum of success (presuming they don't get themselves out of position with needless help defense). With Ibaka at the 5, Asik will have his hands full boxing out, but he can do it.

Sefolosha scares the bejeezus out of me as Harden is likely to be guarding him and he has shown the ability to consistently knock down those open threes. I think Harden should just use the four foot rule (which I just made up) and never get further than four feet away from Sefolosha.

Nick Collison will abuse us as he is a very smart player and knows how to find the soft spots in a defense. I'd like to see Asik/Smith keep a body on him at all times and not get caught ball-watching--as that is when Collison is able to do his damage.

Westbrook must be forced into jumpers...I'd actually prefer to see Harden guarding him since he doesn't seem to want to guard the perimeter. That works well as Westbrook driving into the lane is not good for us. Let him tee it up from 20' out and hope for the best.

Reggie Jackson vs. Patrick Beverley is actually going to be one of the more exciting match-ups. Both are lightning quick and very aggressive. Should be lots of fun to see them go head-to-head.

I'd like to see T-rob and T-jones get some minutes as well. I think their athleticism is matched only by Ibaka. If they play within themselves on offense and are hyper-active on defense they can contribute solid minutes disrupting plays and fighting for rebounds.

I also think D-Mo should log some minutes working in the post on offense. He is very capable there. When the offense bogs down (and it will) throwing it in to him and playing inside out is a good option. Maybe put Lin and Bev outside for shooting with Parsons and PF-X crashing the boards/cutting to the basket. Beats the James Harden "maybe I can catch them staring at my glorious beard and sneak by for a lay-up" offensive sets.

Kevin Martin....almost forgot him....should be motivated against his former team and we don't bother defending the three point line....egads!

More thoughts to come....

• Jason says 10 months ago

We can talk about coaching, players, etc later.
For now, we got to go with what we have in our pants.

Don't mess with "defense win the playoffs game". We don't have defensive game and can't develop that overnight.
To me, we have top offense in NBA when we move, pass, and share as a team and that is the way to go.

We have to play great at Both ends to win
• Richards says 10 months ago

We can talk about coaching, players, etc later.

For now, we got to go with what we have in our pants.

Don't mess with "defense win the playoffs game". We don't have defensive game and can't develop that overnight.

To me, we have top offense in NBA when we move, pass, and share as a team and that is the way to go.

• Jason says 10 months ago Rockets 113, Thunder 112. Harden hits the game winner as time expires.
• Richards says 10 months ago

We can't defend them. Just do a shoot out. McHale must understand that we cannot pretend and play defensive.

• thenit says 10 months ago

For us to win, we need to shot 40% from the 3s and over 50% on the field. We won't win with defence thats for sure.

• 2016Champions says 10 months ago

We'reobviously going to lose,butsomething I want to see McHale do is gosmall whenever Ibaka isn't at the 4, so use Delfino at the 4 when Collison is on the floor, and use Parsons at the 4 when Durant is at the 4. We will still lose, but as long as fight smart and hard, and next season we use everything we learn from this ass whooping to get better in the future, that's all I can ask.

And whenever Ibaka is at the 5, we just need to defend him the same way we defended Marc Gasol. We keep Asik at the rim, and use rotation defenders to contest Ibaka'slong 2's.

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