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@  08huangj : (01 May 2014 - 05:53 AM) In China, we watch the NBA games in the morning, when we work. Happens that every year on May 1 to May 3 there's a 3 day vacation.
@  08huangj : (01 May 2014 - 05:52 AM) I'm superstitious. Every time I watch the Rockets games, they always win. But when I'm busy with my job and check it with my computer, they always lose...
@  RocketMansin... : (01 May 2014 - 04:51 AM) Also got to give credit too Bev playing with a 101 fever is insane.. 2 degrees higher and he is in the hospital
@  thenit : (01 May 2014 - 04:36 AM) Good bounce back game
@  RocketMansin... : (01 May 2014 - 04:28 AM) Proud 2 get 2 watch the Rockets for atleast 1 game... They can do this!
@  RocketMansin... : (01 May 2014 - 04:27 AM) I gotta give credit when credit is due... I know I was dawg'in J.Lin the other day but he really came out and played his butt off!
@  miketheodio : (01 May 2014 - 04:26 AM) lin, asik, howard, bev, parsons at least for trying to get the ball moving
@  RudyT1995 : (01 May 2014 - 04:24 AM) Good night all!
@  RudyT1995 : (01 May 2014 - 04:23 AM) Game 6 is gonna be a dog fight. If we can bring it back, Game 7 will be a blow out.
@  RudyT1995 : (01 May 2014 - 04:22 AM) Asik deserves a lot of credit too. 15 boards, some killer screens to free up Lin. LMA goes 3-12.
@  thenit : (01 May 2014 - 04:21 AM) Phew ok just need to bring it back for game 7
@  miketheodio : (01 May 2014 - 04:20 AM) and an isolation to an airball. whatever. dwight saved our butts. i luvs u d12.
@  RudyT1995 : (01 May 2014 - 04:20 AM) One and One. We Can Do It!
@  miketheodio : (01 May 2014 - 04:16 AM) still not sure about that. did isolations with harden before dwight. would call off screens from asik.
@  RudyT1995 : (01 May 2014 - 04:15 AM) Harden plays DDD!
@  RudyT1995 : (01 May 2014 - 04:14 AM) He's an amazing defender though.
@  RudyT1995 : (01 May 2014 - 04:12 AM) DH is too stubborn. He wants to post-up, not PNR.
@  miketheodio : (01 May 2014 - 04:10 AM) plz run PnR. plz for the love of zeus.
@  RudyT1995 : (01 May 2014 - 04:10 AM) TJJJJJJJJJJJJJ
@  Cooper : (01 May 2014 - 04:09 AM) parsons form is so bad. why is he fading away on wide open shots?

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The Houston Rockets are a conundrum wrapped in a contradiction


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#1 Red94

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    Posted 30 April 2014 - 01:34 AM

    New post: The Houston Rockets are a conundrum wrapped in a contradiction
    By: Richard Li

    [caption id="attachment_14363" align="aligncenter" width="480"]Chart Three point shooting percentage[/caption]

    At the beginning of this season, I was a little curious about how some seemingly contradictory pieces would fit together on the Houston Rockets. I want to talk about a few of these pieces and how might butt heads.

    Modern GM versus old school coach

    This one stood out to me the most. Daryl Morey is known as the most data-driven, experimental, and somewhat avant-garde GM in the league. He relies heavily on data to make personnel decisions and craft an offensive philosophy that emphasizes close shots, free throws, and three-pointers. His head coach is legendary Hall of Fame big man who loved the post game and attempted 20 three-pointers over the first nine years of his career. I think JR Smith attempted more than that in one game this year.

    I can't help but think that, if McHale were a TNT announcer instead of the Rockets head coach, he would be leading the charge in criticizing analytics and waxing nostalgic about the dying post game and mid-range jump shot. Obviously I'm stereotyping McHale based on his pedigree and projecting based on a completely hypothetical scenario, but the match between him and Morey just seems like a bit of an odd couple.

    Shooting threes with bad shooters

    OK, we know Morey's offensive philosophy heavily emphasizes shooting three-pointers. We know that the Rockets shot more threes than any other team in the league. Most of us know that the Rockets aren't actually an excellent three-point shooting team. That seems kind of strange.

    The above chart compares the Rockets most prolific three-point shooters against two league averages. The blue line is the overall NBA average, while the orange line is the average for "shooters," defined as players who shot at least 200 three-pointers, roughly 100 players including the Rockets' four.

    Measured against the NBA average, Parsons and Harden are above average, Beverley is barely above average, and Lin is barely below average. Measured against players who are supposed to shoot the ball a lot, they're all below average. For all the talk about efficiency that Morey and company have engendered, the Rockets are probably the definition of high-volume but low-efficiency three-point shooting.

    Efficient players but inefficient plays

    On one hand, it seems like the Rockets acquired the two perfect superstars to fit this system in Harden and Howard. Harden crashes the rim, gets fouled a lot, and shoots threes. Howard finishes near the rim with great aplomb.

    But the shot is just the last part of a long story. While the data might say take close shots and three-pointers, actually creating those shots is another story. The data can't help you there. This is important because despite their shot charts being very in sync with Morey's philosophy, how Harden and Howard get their shots is very much out of sync with the same philosophy.

    Three-pointers are dependent upon movement, space, and pace. Unless your name is Stephen Curry, running to the three-point line and jacking up a shot with a hand in your face isn't a particularly good idea. For mortals, even mortals who shoot well, a much better strategy is moving the ball more quickly than the defense can rotate until an open three-pointer is found. Similarly, close shots are best taken without the opponent's big man protecting the rim. Occupying him with penetration or misdirecting him to open up a cutting lane are more efficient strategies.

    This is where the contradiction comes in. Despite taking the shots that Morey likes, Harden acquires those shots very slowly. As I wrote about before, Harden is one of the league's leaders in stopping the ball.  He is also second to last in the league in terms of how much he moves per 48 minutes of game time. His 1-4 flat isolations have become quite nefarious. During these "plays," Harden is dribbling between his legs while everyone else is standing around. In of itself, isolation is probably the least efficient play in basketball. The Rockets, for all their emphasis on efficiency, are among the league leaders in their isolation frequency. While Harden is isolating, the other four players are just standing around waiting for the play to finish. Not exactly great movement to find an open shot (though one can arise, described below).

    However, despite the criticism Harden receives for his isolations (my own included), it's not the worst play in the Rockets repertoire. He "only" isolates 24% of the time he possesses the ball.  His points per possession per isolation is 0.96, which is up from the mid-point of the season. In the event that he makes it into the paint, the defense can collapse around him, which can open up a shot for someone else. The worst play is...

    Howard's post up. According to Synergy, over 52% of Dwight's offensive possessions were post ups. His points per possession on those plays is 0.76. That's just putrid. That's much worse than Harden's ppp on isolations. That's even worse than when he shoots free throws! And what happens when Dwight posts up? The other four players run to the other side of the court, saturating that side with eight players. Not exactly great spacing.

    Again, the team that emphasizes efficiency the most runs the least efficient plays. Curious.


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    #2 RudyT1995

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      Posted 30 April 2014 - 02:10 AM

      That's some insightful stuff.  Good article.


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      #3 rocketrick

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        Posted 30 April 2014 - 04:37 AM

        Just curious to see the impact Terrance Jones sitting has on the offensive efficiency. Terrance Jones has to sit because LaMarcus Aldridge torched Jones and anybody else guarding him those first 2 games. Asik has done a decent job on Aldridge as has D12 when each are matched up the past 2 games. Only problem is at least with Terrance Jones he is a 3-point threat and is good rebounding the ball for putbacks, etc. I don't think the Rockets have run a single play for Asik when he's in the starting lineup. A couple of pick and rolls with Lin only when Harden and D12 are on the bench.

        The Rockets shot 11/27 in the 4th quarter and overtime in their Game 4 loss. 9/18 from 2 point range, 2/9 from 3 point range. In addition, the Rockets shot 9/10 from the free throw line. I believe the Rockets only had 2 fastbreak points off 2 free throws as Harden was fouled on his way to the basket after one of D12's emphatic blocks. So the 3's aren't dropping and the Rockets are barely getting any fast break opportunities. It didn't help that the Rockets managed to score 0 points on 3 consecutive fastbreak opportunities in the 3rd quarter.

        Does having Troy Daniels on the floor change the 3 point efficiency going forward? He only took 4 shots in the 4th quarter and overtime in Game 4 and was 1/3 from 3 with one of the misses while being fouled. So 6 points off the 3 3-point attempts. Plus 1/1 from 2. Overall, Troy Daniels scored 17 but only 8 in the 4th quarter and overtime on just 4 shot attempts.

        I assume your analysis was based on the regular season whereas the Rockets have changed things up in the Play-offs by taking Terrance Jones off the floor and substituting in Asik for defense and rebounding and Troy Daniels came out of the blue and is being efficient with his opportunities.

        D12 shot 4/7 in the 4th quarter and overtime and 5/6 from the free throw line. So 13 points on just 7 shots although he had those 2 turnovers in overtime. Interesting that your analysis states D12 postups are the least efficient for the Rockets offense, yet was the most effective during crunch time (4th quarter and overtime of Game 4).

        And not as many James Harden isolations lately, especially the 1-4 flat isolations. Harden scored 13 points on 11 shots in the 4th quarter and overtime of Game 4. 4/11 from 2 point range, 1/5 from 3 point range and 4/4 free throws with 1 turnover. Just not as efficient as he needs to be for the Rockets to have any post-season success.

        Still, the Rockets are down 1-3 in this series and so it's understandable to question their philosophy. I keep repeating myself, I know, but why is it that Portland seems to make the big shots and the Rockets, although getting clean looks, isn't shooting as well? Parsons, Beverley and Lin shot just 1/6 in the 4th quarter and overtime including 0/2 from the 3 point line with 3 crucial turnovers (2 by Lin).

        I think the Rockets can create some additional offense by posting up D12, forcing Portland to double, then have D12 pass out and have his teammates find the open man. But if Parsons and Harden keep shooting bricks from 3, I can't really blame D12 for trying to make something happen with the ball. I agree with your analysis that the Rockets just don't have the most proficient 3 point shooters. Perhaps with Troy Daniels proving he belongs, the Rockets can find ways to get him more shots moving forward.

        Edited by rocketrick, 30 April 2014 - 04:47 AM.

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        #4 thenit

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          Posted 30 April 2014 - 05:09 AM

          The stats are there. Post ups are only effective against certain opponents aka Lopez but not LMA. Game four was not the norm. Blaming Lin for crunch time shots in game four when he wasn't there for both OT or end of 4th except for defensive assignment where he did lose the ball. He was a non factor, we had the lead and didn't score a fg for over 5 min.

          Please stop posting up Howard too much it's just not sustainable saw it in game 2 where he was poor second half. It's a weapon but that shouldn't be over used. More pnr please with H and H.
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          #5 miketheodio

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            Posted 30 April 2014 - 05:13 AM

            fast break opportunities in the playoffs become limited. 3s are harder to come by without excellent ball movement. FTs are some what up to the refs.

             

            it's heavily based on the open court with little attention paid to the half court.


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            #6 miketheodio

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              Posted 30 April 2014 - 05:18 AM

              The stats are there. Post ups are only effective against certain opponents aka Lopez but not LMA. Game four was not the norm. Blaming Lin for crunch time shots in game four when he wasn't there for both OT or end of 4th except for defensive assignment where he did lose the ball. He was a non factor, we had the lead and didn't score a fg for over 5 min.

              Please stop posting up Howard too much it's just not sustainable saw it in game 2 where he was poor second half. It's a weapon but that shouldn't be over used. More pnr please with H and H.

              to me it's more about the sequence of plays. sometimes the "plays" called get repetitive like posting up 3 or 4 times in a row. it isn't "post up --> PnR---> set up for a 3". it's "post up---->post up----> post up".


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              #7 brewboss

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                Posted 30 April 2014 - 02:25 PM

                It's actually quite a bit worse than even these stats indicate -- so many of these post-ups end in turnovers, which lead to a much more efficient offensive opportunity for the opponent (especially given the rockets' complete lack of transition defense)


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                #8 rocketrick

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                  Posted 30 April 2014 - 03:33 PM

                  Actually, posting up D12 in the 4th quarter and overtime was the most efficient play for the Rockets since nobody could hit the broad side of the barn from the outside. Just take a minute to review the Play-by-Play breakdown and notice that D12 efficiently scored 13 points on only 7 shots in the 4th quarter and overtime. Compared to Harden scoring 13 points on 11 shots and the rest of the team barely scoring at all other than Troy Daniels in his scant minutes during that time period. Troy scored 8 points on 4 shots in about 4-5 minutes max playing time during crunch time (entire 4th quarter and overtime).

                  Edited by rocketrick, 30 April 2014 - 03:34 PM.

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                  #9 thejohnnygold

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                  Posted 30 April 2014 - 03:34 PM

                  @RocketRick--I think what kills the Rockets with Jones on the floor is rebounding--on both ends.  It's the "Jeremy Lin" effect.  Jones will make a great play on the offensive glass and get a putback that makes us say, "Wow--that guy is awesome!"....and while we are still feeling euphoric from that play we somehow neglect his inability to box out or protect the paint for the next 5 possessions.

                   

                  The only time the team rebounding numbers aren't atrocious are when he is paired with Asik rather than Howard.

                   

                  Jones has only taken 1 three pointer the entire series so he is most likely not helping the spacing much.

                   

                  Basically, I think the Rockets have struggled to consistently get stops with Jones on the floor.  We often stifle the initial play, but are caught out of position and Lopez, Freeland, Batum, or whoever are feasting on offensive rebounds.  That is not a recipe for success--as we have seen.

                   

                  In game 3, our lone victory, Jones played a paltry 13 minutes (he played 36, 26, and 21 in the others).  He was 0-3 with 2 rebounds and an asssist probably against reserves...but he had a +/- of +8.....who knows....?


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                  #10 rockets best fan

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                  Posted 30 April 2014 - 04:31 PM

                  @miketheodio

                  totally agree we run the same sets 3-4 time in a row before we change and our attention to the half court play is what's killing us. fact is we aren't a very good half court team right now. when we run we look fantastic, but wen the game grinds down to a snails pace we start standing around waiting for either Harden or Howard to do something. I believe we only have about 3 plays in our playbook :lol: what do you think?


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                  you can only warn a man that the bridge is out.....if he keeps driving he's on his own B)


                  #11 Cooper

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                    Posted 30 April 2014 - 05:36 PM

                    Jones sometimes goes for blocks while helping on howard/asiks man that aren't really attainable then he's out of position for the board and even when he's in position for some reason he can't or just doesn't know how to box out correctly. With his passing and general offense being much improved over the season and past summer. Once he gets more of that veteran savy on how to play NBA defense and rebound he should be fine.


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