Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Season Opener: No Surprises...but a Pleasant Surprise

No, the sky isn't falling. In the Rockets' 96-87 loss to the Blazers in last night's season opener, things went just as anyone should have expected.

The good guys scratched and clawed for 48 minutes, even making things interesting at one point late, but ultimately fell to a superior foe. This is the same effort you can expect from this group with consistent results. They will beat up on bad teams and lose to the good teams when overwhelmed by the talent differential. There will be nights when they look completely overmatched inside, as they did tonight, but they will continue to fight. You can bank on this team to not ever mail it in.

To me, the most interesting storyline came late in the 4th. The Rockets had cut the lead to single digits with ample time remaining on the clock and were beginning to pose a serious threat to steal the game. It was at this point when conventional wisdom flew out the window.

While Chase Budinger played a big role in the comeback, with a chance to win the game one would expect Shane Battier or at the least, Trevor Ariza, to be reinserted for the duty of guarding Brandon Roy. I mean, this is Brandon freaking Roy, it's the 4th quarter, and you can actually still win this thing!

So what did Rick Adelman do? Much to my delight, he kept Chase in the game, kept him guarding Brandon Roy, and kept Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry together in the backcourt. I absolutely loved that. One might argue that Rick wanted to stay with the hot lineup, but there's no way you can tell me he would have seriously kept Chase Budinger on Brandon Roy had his prime motivation been to win the game.

What that 3 minute sequence did was prove that Rick Adelman is taking a greater, macro approach to this season. This year isn't about meaningless wins and losses but rather planning for the future and seeing what we have in each of these players. That tends to be forgotten. Kudos to Rick Adelman.


ElPigto said...

I love your comment about the fourth quarter and the line up Rick left in there. This is similar to what he was doing with Brooks towards the end of last season. He didn't particular seem to care about the win as much as seem to care about Brooks developing as a closer.

Good job Rick.

cabbage said...

Pigto: absolutely. i hope people didn't misinterpret me as meaning that i think rick is tanking. tanking is deliberately losing. rick is trying to win but in a manner that yields long term results rather than meaningless immediacy.

Anonymous said...

I think you're absolutely right about rick trying to yield long term results. A very cogent analysis

Anonymous said...

i think it was a good move it gave chase a confidence boost and that rick trusts chase

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