3-on-3: Houston’s Staples Center Experience

3on3 truehoopnetwork 110 3 on 3: Houston’s Staples Center Experience

The Rockets are coming off a 108-99 loss to the Lakers and a 117-89 dismantling at the hands of the Clippers. Our analysts assess the situation.

1. Miracle or Mirage: Kyle Lowry’s early bid for Most Improved Player.

Rahat Huq, Red94: It’s not too surprising that he’s producing as a starter–when extrapolating his early advanced stats–but I don’t think anyone expected he’d reach this level.  Including the tail end of last season, I think we now have enough of a sample size to feel confident that what we’re getting is close to who Kyle Lowry really is.

Jacob Mustafa, Red94: If it qualifies as a miracle, Lowry’s emergence as a semi-star certainly only counts as a small one. The last 20 or so games of last season allowed Lowry to display his new shooting touch, and the beginning of this one has simply continued the coronation. MIP almost doesn’t seem like quite enough for someone with all of the tools that Kyle has.

Eric Todd, Red94: Neither. Lowry has shown flashes that alluded to his potential since he was a rookie in Memphis but was trapped behind Mike Conley there and Aaron Brooks for his first season in Houston. His production this season has been consistent with what it was last year after he became the starter.

2. Fact or Fiction: Chase Budinger is better suited coming off the bench.

Rahat: Fact, if Kevin Martin is the shooting guard.  The problem is that this team doesn’t really have any other options.  Parsons would probably fare just as poorly defensively and Terrence Williams hasn’t shown much so far.

Jacob: Fiction. Unless this team suddenly deems Marcus Morris a valid option at the three or finds out which cog has been malfunctioning in the five-tool-machine that should be Terrence Williams, Budinger’s manifold skills on the offensive end offer just about the only level of consistency the Rockets have at the wing. And it’s certainly better than those awful three-guard sets.

Eric: Fact, but only on how he relates to this particular Rockets’ starting unit. Houston desperately needs a defensive stopper to play alongside Martin and Scola. I’m not suggesting that Budinger is the worst defender in the league, just that the team needs someone far better than average to try to compensate for what his running mates lack.

3. In a best-of-seven series, the Rockets are most likely to:

(A) Defeat the Lakers and the Clippers

(B) Defeat the Lakers, lose to the Clippers

(C) Lose to the Lakers, defeat the Clippers

(D) Lose to the Lakers and the Clippers

Rahat: D. Right now, the Rockets just don’t have enough to hang with either LA team.  The Clippers just seem overall better, after last night’s showing, and the Rockets have no answer for Bynum.

Jacob: D. Too much firepower resides in Staples Center for either Los Angeles team to be pushed to more than six games in any given series, at least as the Rockets’ are currently constituted. Houston’s ball movement and overall offense can be superb, but this Rockets defense has no chance stopping the Bynums, Pauls, Griffins and Kobes one-on-one.

Eric: D. Is this even a question? Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, Chris Paul, and Blake Griffin, the Rockets don’t have a single player who can compete with any of these guys. We’d be lucky to make it to 6 games against either of these teams.

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