The Rockets Daily – April 18, 2013

Reunited And It Feels So…Bleh – With the Rockets’ infuriating frustrating heartbreaking inevitable overtime loss to the Lakers last night, Houston will face OKC in the first round, and L.A. will face the Spurs.

James Harden will face his old team in the soap opera that every sports writer has been hoping all year, and one of the most dangerous 7-seeds (L.A.) in recent memory will face one of the most vulnerable 2-seeds (San Antonio) in recent memory.

Lesson: Never bet against TV ratings when you’re predicting playoff match-ups. Never.

Prognostication –  The blogosphere has begun breaking down Houston’s playoff future (as we will do here in the coming days), and as Hoopchalk points out, the keys to the Rockets’ offense are all the things they didn’t do at the end of last night’s game:

Ball movement: Lin, Harden, Parsons, even Asik are all above-average to exceptional passers. Though they do look for the open three or to the rim in transition, and while Harden has the ultimate green light, the Rockets prefer move the ball from side to side, whipping it around the perimeter until they get a wide-open shot.

The Dream Shake’s excellent preview has even more on the Rockets’ offensive foibles:

First and foremost, the Rockets need to attack and be decisive with the ball. They’re turning it over at an alarmingly high clip as a team. Our key performers (Shy of Chandler Parsons) are doing their part towards prevention but the Rockets really need to get a handle on the ball. The shot charts bear this out with relatively poor showings at the rim (Due to Ibaka’s presence). The charts really bring to bear the fact the complaint about the Rockets failing to get decisive in the paint and panic passes in those situations. The remedy for this is simply to tell the team when you attack the rim you committed to attacking it. You’re only to pass out if there’s a wide-open three pointer and that’s it.

Tweet That – Zach Lowe was killing it with nuggets of knowledge on Twitter this morning:

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Oof – Zach Lowe was also killing it with his criticism of James Harden’s defense in his Mega Like/Don’t Like column:

Harden is just one culprit, but as a perimeter player often stationed closest to midcourt of all Rockets in those precious seconds of offense-to-defense transition, his bad habits are especially damaging. Harden’s reactions are sometimes a fatal beat late, and he often gives up on the idea of retreating altogether, choosing instead to reach for steals as ball handlers fly by him or leap hopelessly at outlet passes jetting over his head. Those gambles aren’t always terrible; they can in some especially bad circumstances represent a smart last-ditch effort to disrupt an overwhelming fast break no other teammate has any hope of disrupting. But Harden and his teammates need to limit these lunging gambles to those hopeless circumstances, get their floor balance in order, and approach postseason transition defense with appropriate urgency.

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About the author: John Eby got on the Rockets bandwagon in 1994 and never got off. He is a public relations guy and recovering TV journalist living in South Carolina.

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The day after, and three days away: Reflecting upon Houston’s complete collapse