Hypnosis – Henry Abbott is frustrated with how both the Rockets and Thunder stick to hero ball despite its abundant ineffectiveness:
All the things I just wrote about Durant and the Thunder go double for the Rockets and James Harden. Kevin McHale uses Harden like you used your favorite new song when you were 12 — again and again and again until it’s completely worn out.
As much as the Thunder offense was good all season but bad in crunch time, the Rockets are the kings of that particular dynamic, and have been for the same reason all season. They’re also famously the most analytical team in the league, meaning almost certainly somebody is telling McHale this is a bad idea, but he’s doing it anyway.
Anatomy of a Breakout – Hoopchalk.com dissects Chandler Parsons big game and his simple effectiveness on offense:
Rather than pulling up for a well-contested jumper, or idling near the top of the key and allowing Durant to recover over to him, Parsons hits Ibaka with a hesitation dribble designed to create just enough space for him to get to the basket. Ibaka lunges out just a little too far, fooled into thinking Parsons is taking that pull up jumper. This allows Parsons to get to the rim, where he uses Ibaka’s shot-blocking instincts against him and throws yet another pump fake out there. Ibaka bites hard and goes flying out of bounds, while Parsons gets an easy layup.
It’s this kind of simple, yet complete offensive game that has made Parsons into one of the league’s best young players and ultimate bargains. He’s both crafty and hard-nosed, and he can dribble, shoot and pass with effectiveness and efficiency. He’s also a smart enough player to know which to do at which times.
Dwightwatch – Via the L.A. Times: Bovada’s oddsmakers have Dwight going back to L.A., with Houston as option no. 2:
The Houston Rockets are the next-likely team to acquire Howard, with 11-4 odds. The Dallas Mavericks (3-1) and Atlanta Hawks (6-1) are also possibilities, according to Bovada.
The prospect of Howard playing for another team altogether is given 17-2 odds.
So here’s the deal: Dwight needs to just bet a few million on going to Houston, go there, and make up the money he left on the table by leaving L.A. with his winnings. It’s a win-win! Wait, say what? No, of course it’s legal. No, there’s no chance of Dwight getting Nancy Kerrigan-ed in a dark alley if he does that. Don’t be ridiculous.
Opposition Research – Despite widespread concern about how OKC’s offense can click without Westbrook, the Daily Thunder reports Scott Brooks is worried about defense:
With all the focus on how the Thunder play without Westbrook, Brooks sees the issue for OKC’s lapses being on the defensive end, and less about the perception of poor offense.
“The scoring, I feel that we’re going to have enough as we continue to improve in what we do,” he said. “Our scoring is going to be fine. We just have to continue to play defense.”
He’s right. In Game 4, the Rockets had an offensive rating of 111.0, which not good at all for the Thunder. In Game 3, while the Thunder tried to stumble their way through their first outing without Westbrook, the Rockets had a 101.0 rating. Defense has to be the backbone for this Thunder team right now. All the focus is going to be on how OKC scores, what sets they run and how it looks. But they can always defend.
I guess when Kevin Durant is on your team, you just let the offense take care of itself.
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