Thoughts on Cavs – Rockets

2009 December 10
by rahat huq
  • With four minutes left in the 1st, Bill, Clyde, and Matt share a nice laugh over their unfamiliarity with the concept of blogging.  I’m hurt.
  • With three minutes remaining in the 1st, Trevor Ariza cuts in for a slashing dunk, and knocks down two spot up 3’s on consecutive plays.  I make note of this and plan to reassert my earlier thesis that he should simply stick to his strengths and abandon his intents to develop his 1on1 game until…
  • With nine seconds remaining in the 1st, Ariza fake dribbles to his left and drives to his right to bury the pull-up jumper.  More on this later.
  • Start of the 2nd: Bill mentions that the Jazz are in line to have the highest odds to receive the #1 pick in this summer’s draft (via New York).  That scenario presents possibly the greatest talent/need dilemma I can remember in recent history.  If you are Utah, you already have arguably the top point guard in basketball at only 25 years old in Deron Williams.  You now own the rights to the most heralded point guard prospect of the last 20 years in John Wall.  Do you play them in tandem or trade?  The only analogous scenarios that come to mind are Houston deciding to just play Akeem and Ralph together and Orlando deciding to trade Webber for Penny.
  • Delonte West has to have the best post-up game of any small guard I can remember since Sam Cassell.  I first noticed this in the playoffs last season against Orlando.  The move is incredibly interesting to watch; really nothing like I’ve seen before from any guard.  Instead of backing in and spinning/fading away/jump hooking, what he seems to be doing is actually using the backing down of his defender to create space. He backs down his man and then actually steps away, squaring up for the jumpshot.  It’s a move I have seen David West use, but there are many big men in this league that could learn from this.
  • With 7:15 remaining in the 2nd, Ariza posts up, spins back, and reverse dunks the ball.  More on this.
  • With 4:41 remaining in he 4th, Landry posts up on the 6′10 Varejao, airing the fadeaway.  I have a deeper look at Carl Landry in mind for an upcoming post, but this move illustrates his achilles heel – the inability to go over or through.  He has to go around.
  • With 2:50 remaining in the 4th, Ariza hits another pull-up.
  • This game was the most controlled I have seen Trevor Ariza play in some time.  But it’s not like he was simply playing within his game – he was actually completing on some of the moves I said he couldn’t do.  Time will tell if this performance was merely a fluke.
  • Now to the most important storylines of the game.  Lebron was held to 8-21 shooting.  What’s most interesting to me is that I didn’t really note the Rockets doing anything unique that would lead to such a performance.  Each trip down the court, I kept trying to pinpoint some advanced strategy for defending Lebron, but it was no different than how they guard any opposing wing.  Shane gave him space, and Chuck Hayes slid over in support after the penetration.  My complete inability to identify the key to their strategy tonight made me realize that I have come to take this team’s defensive brilliance for granted.  Hopefully John Krolik can shed some more light on what exactly took place tonight.  It can’t be so easily explained as simply being the product of sound positional defense.  No way.
  • Shaq had a -12 for this game and was completely ineffective.  The Cavs looked to Shaq the first two sequences of the game and then abandoned that strategy after it proved to be useless.  I just don’t really know what to say at this point without giving in to hyperbole.  I don’t know how he does it, but Chuck Hayes is the best defender in basketball right now.  I’m comfortable making that assertion.
  • Cleveland looked much better tonight when Ilgauskus was in Shaq’s place as he burned the Rockets in the pick and pop.
  • It is possibly because they are really the only team we have faced with two full-sized centers, but the real thing that came to mind watching Shaq/Z on the court was how much more space we have to operate offensively without Yao in the lane.  I don’t mean this in a negative sense, but it never really hit home before tonight.  A lot of the Rockets’ offense is predicated upon drives and passes once the player with the ball is already inside the paint.  That’s just not possible with Yao in the middle.
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12 Responses leave one →
  1. December 10, 2009

    I’d say a big factor was LeBron just biffing his midrange jumper last night. It’s been the biggest improvement in his game this season, but on Tuesday he went 0-6 on midrange looks he’s fairly comfortable with. He’s been hitting around 40-45 percent from those ranges this year-he makes two of those, it’s a 31-point night on 60% TS, and if he makes half of them, it’s 33 on 63.5% TS. Missing those took him out of his flow a little bit, and he didn’t get aggressive until it was too late.

    Plus, he was completely unable to get anything going with him off of the ball, which is something I’d credit the Rocket D with-my favorite play is when Mo penetrates going right along the baseline and LeBron cuts down behind him for a finish off counter-movement, and tonight the Rockets sniffed that out and forced Mo to dump it to Shaq, who couldn’t do anything with it, to provide a microcosm.  

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  2. Anonymous permalink
    December 10, 2009

    I don’t follow the rockets, but I enjoy reading about the phenomenon that is Chuck Hayes. Good stuff  

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  3. December 10, 2009

    If you love shoes, and I´m sure you do, then you may have thought about getting some new shoes that are really stylish, modern and cool looking.  

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  4. Vic De Zen permalink
    December 10, 2009

    Hayes, the best defender in basketball… I can’t argue. He’s brilliant. The Rockets’ D is a joy to watch. Him AND Battier? You’re spoiled there.  

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  5. durvasa permalink
    December 10, 2009

    Hilarious moment: Landry stepping in for Chuck to take the free throws. If people can’t tell them apart anyway might as well go for it, right?  

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  6. paper permalink
    December 10, 2009

    Hayes justfiedly gets the pub and Battier gets the hot shooter, but don’t forget that they are backed by Scola (Mr. Hoover off the boards), Ariza (Mr. Wingspan) and Lowry (leading the league in charges taken).  

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  7. J Chao permalink
    December 10, 2009

    I didn’t realize that the Jazz have the rights to the Knicks first round pick, and I wonder if they’re regretting sending an unprotected first round pick for Tom Gugliotta six years ago??? Anyhow, the Nets and TWolves both have worse records and I doubt the Knicks end up with a worse record than those teams, but they could end up with a top three pick.  

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  8. BIgYul permalink
    December 10, 2009

    Dont’ worry the Rockets will be on TV when it counts (playoffs). I almost would rather see this crew of guys go it alone then with our two stars. They are the only team that puts fear in the Lakers. Chuck is the best and I am glad he has the opportunity to show his worth. Hopefully he will always stay a Rocket. It just seems they only get better with each game this team of unknowns. I think the word is getting out and teams better start treating the Rockets as if the Lakers were coming to town if you expect a victory. They do not stop until the game is over – no matter how far you might think you have them down  

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  9. mike ainsworth permalink
    December 10, 2009

    you are an excellent read every time. keep it up.  

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  10. Nobody is Better Than Jordan permalink
    December 10, 2009

    I was at the game, and there was a different feeling in the air towards the end of this game than in previous ones.
    I think this victory against the Cavs was bitter sweet.
    Obviously, we played pretty damn good on both ends, we never seemed to lose our composure and maintained control and that was impressive.
    However, I do think the officiating was still off, like in the Golden State game, but this time it happened to be predominantly in the Rockets favor.
    I understand that any team with a home court advantage will likely get a few calls their way (excluding Utah, because they get virtually every call their way), but last night seemed a bit excessive IMO. I like to see the Rockets win, I love their attitude and their drive. I feel they played well enough last night to win no matter what, but I still think there were too many calls on the Cavs that just weren’t right and it makes the game hard to watch and enjoy.  

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  11. amaar permalink
    December 10, 2009

    I was not able to watch the game, but looking at the boxscore, the first thing that jumped out at me was the fact that Trevor managed to shoot as well as he did without attempting a single freethrow. The ability to draw a foul is a very underrated skill in my opinion and it is quite disconcerting that his free throw attempt to field goal attempt rate is so low.  

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  12. December 16, 2009

    I love you.  

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