Rockets Win Easy over Blazers – Perfect Rotation By McHale

What a fun game to watch. Linsanity 2.0 was in the house, but what I was most excited about was that McHale is FINALLY figuring out how to use his players. It took him way too long, but at least he’s starting to figure it out just in time for the playoffs.

For the first time since back in December, McHale staggered Lin’s and Harden’s minutes. We’ll see if this continues. But it was very effective tonight. He took Lin out late in the first quarter, which was perfect. And then put Lin back in in the beginning of the second and sat Harden. this is EXACTLY what I’ve been calling for McHale to do all season. Then he gave Lin a breather in the middle of the second quarter and put Lin back late in the second quarter. He used a similar strategy in the second half, but left Beverly. The Lin-Harden-Beverly trio in the second half was very intriguing and worked out well tonight. Lin also worked very well with Beverly (when Harden wasn’t on the court), much like he did with Douglas. Lin isn’t shy about demanding the ball from Beverly, but also did a great job of finding Beverly in optimal situations. There was also a nice give-and-go between Beverly and Lin in the second half. I hope McHale notices this and plays Lin and Beverly together more.

McHale also didn’t run Harden to the ground, which is expected as we’re getting closer to the playoffs. But I hope McHale continues to give his players rest, rather than playing them for entire halves, even during the playoffs. It think it’s much more effective to keep guys fresh than to run a few of them to the ground, because you don’t trust any of the other guys. Rockets basketball requires pace and energy, so it’s critical to have fresh bodies out there at all times. I think Rockets have the guys to use a 10-player rotation, which is exactly what is required for the Rockets fast-paced high-energy offense to work. The thing about the Rockets is that we’re very deep. But McHale hasn’t been doing a good job with the rotation, so we’re not fully utilizing the guys on our team. McHale has been doing a better job of this in the most recent games, due to Harden and Parsons being out. But I hope this teaches McHale to have more trust in his other guys. Anderson got playing time and Garcia did well in the first quarter, but sat too long the rest of the game. Overall, though, there was a good balance and McHale’s usage of Lin tonight was very close to what I’ve been calling for all season. Hope he sticks with this formula–especially of staggering Lin’s and Harden’s minutes.

Lin took it easy in the first quarter, but turned things up when Harden wasn’t on the floor. He also gave the Rockets a much-needed spark in the third by scoring 7 straight points to start off the third quarter. Lin played very aggressively–especially in the second half–and had so many picture-perfect assists. He definitely owned Lillard tonight and pretty much shut Lillard down–although Beverly was on Lillard quite a bit in the second half. But Lillard also didn’t do much when Lin was on him. Harden also had a solid game. One of his better games as of late. His shot looked good tonight, after struggling with his shooting, lately. Linharden finished with 55 points (22 Lin; 33 Harden), 14 assists (8 Lin; 6 Harden), 11 rebounds (4 Lin; 7 Harden), and 3 steals (2 Lin; 1 Harden). Greg Smith ended up with 19 points, which was shocking to me, because I didn’t notice him scoring that much. He had 12 free throw attempts and made 9 of them. That has to be a career high for Greg Smith. So another solid start for Smith.

Rockets only need two more games to clinch the playoffs. As we’re approaching the playoffs, I’m seeing a lot of depth in this Rockets squad. I think having Harden and Parsons out of the line up for a few games was a blessing in disguise, because it forced McHale out of his comfort zone. It made him play guys that he otherwise wouldn’t and I think this has resulted in making the Rockets a lot more dangerous. I just hope that McHale learns from this and uses more of this type of rotation in the playoffs. I hope he doesn’t revert back to playing Harden and Parsons to the ground in the playoffs. I just think it’s not a very effective way, because players get tired and don’t provide the same level of energy that Rockets require for our style of basketball. I really like the way this team looks coming into the playoffs and if McHale continues to stagger Lin’s and Harden’s minutes, Rockets are going to make a lot of noise in the playoffs. I also hope McHale starts trusting Garcia over Delfino. I feel like the Rockets are at their most dangerous right now, because McHale is finally using the players the right way and at the right amount. I just hope it continues. If it does, Rockets have a good shot of making it past the second round–especially if we get the 6th seed. Gallinari is out for the season, so I really like the Rockets chances if they face either Denver or the Clippers. The Clippers seem to be in a bit of a funk, lately. If we face either Denver or the Clippers, I predict Rockets make it past the first round of the playoffs. Probably win in 6. Book it! Actually, I even like the Rockets chances if they face a Spurs without Parker. So basically, Rockets will make it to the second round of the playoffs if Parker is out for the rest of the season or if they don’t play OKC. In short, The only teams I don’t want Rockets to face in the playoffs are OKC, Memphis and Spurs (with Parker). Other than that, I think Rockets will surprise all the analysts (like they have been all season) and make it past the first round.

For those who don’t know, Jeremy Lin will be on 60 Minutes this Sunday. I’m definitely looking forward to that. Been wondering when they would air it. Kind of odd timing, but I think it turned out for the best. I thought they were going to air it to kick off the NBA season, but I’m glad they didn’t, because Lin was still dealing with so many issues around that time. Lin is definitely in a much better place now, so I think it’s perfect timing for a 60 Minutes profile on him to be aired.

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21 thoughts on “Rockets Win Easy over Blazers – Perfect Rotation By McHale

  1. I have been watching your post for a long time and you are really Lin fan as me!! I was so pathetic about how mcfail use Lin before. but now, it seems getting better. Thanks your post again.

    • Thanks, James. I’m glad to see you commenting. Look forward to more comments from you in the future.

    • Yep, TJones is definitely another player that McHale has neglected. I was very high on TJones from what I saw in the pre-season and summer league. Glad to see that he’s FINALLY getting much deserved playing time.

  2. The only reason McHale increased Lin’s minutes despite Lin’s arm is obviously hurt, is to not over work Harden – prepare for playoffs. Lin should get his arm checked out and not over use it – for the sake of playoffs.

    SL

    • Yeah, I wouldn’t mind McHale resting Lin, Harden and Parsons more the rest of the way–especially since I’m rooting for Rockets to get the 7th seed now.

  3. Okay, I take back everything I said about Denver in the above post. Denver is still very good without Gallinari. So I’m still scared of Denver as I had been in previous posts. As a REVISION to the above post, the teams I don’t want Rockets to face in the playoffs are: OKC, Denver and Memphis. I actually prefer Spurs, even with Parker, over Denver, since Spurs play a different style. I think Rockets match up better against the Spurs. Denver is just a better version of the Rockets and they’re way more athletic.

    Since it looks like Denver will end up in the third seed, I think I will have to root for the Rockets staying in the 7th seed, so they don’t have to go against Denver in the first round, since I don’t see the Clippers overtaking Denver for the 3rd seed.

    • I’m so frustrated with Mcfail and Harden tonight. Already gave my rant on ESPN Rockets vs Nuggest chatroom. It’s no different who they face now.

      Until the Rockets coaching staff get their act together and learn of Harden’s weakeness, we’re not winning anything in the playoffs.

      “Morey why didn’t you pursuit Iguodala instead of Harden? He plays defense very well.” -Alexander hangs up.

      • I agree. To me, Harden is best when he attacks the rim or shoots 3 pointers, and he can assist too. But other than those, he’s poor in defense and sloppy handling the ball, which has led to many bad turnovers. Even his offense is inconsistent; his shooting percentage is not better than Lin’s. It seems to me that part of what makes his scoring stats so high this season is him either ball hogging or being given the most touches as the superstar on the team. I think for a young team like Rockets, having a superstar like Harden might not be the best for them; they might as well get other good players with lower pay and play a more democratic basketball so they get the best chances to learn and improve.

        I

      • Harden definitely hogged the ball too much in the Denver game. I notice that Harden especially hogs the ball when he’s in transition, because he’s confident in his ability to score in transition, which is very warranted, but I think there are a fair number of instances where he should pass the ball up. I see him miss Lin quite a bit in transition. That being said, Harden did feed Lin in transition last night, but he did it a hair too late and that caused the defense to react and foul Lin, although the refs didn’t call it. Not sure if you remember that possession, but to me, it was the key possession of the game, not that it would have made much difference. It was in the second quarter. I couldn’t believe Lin didn’t get the foul call. That was one of those disturbing missed calls, that aren’t as common as they were a couple of months ago. Anyway, Denver ended up scoring 3 on the other end, so that’s a 5-point swing in a matter of seconds. After that, Denver never looked back.

        I think Harden got frustrated from being owned by Iggy defensively and that’s why he was pressing so much last night. That’e the other reason to be scared of Denver. Both Harden and Asik do very poorly against Denver.

    • yeah. i was gonna leave a comment about Denver not being as good without Ty Lawson or Gallinari. They have a lot of depth and I agree with you – they are a better version of the Rockets. Actually, George Karl has been creating and coaching teams in this style for a very long time already – remember the SuperSonics? Fast paced, hard nosed basketball. However, the Nuggets are built much better for this style since they have reliable bigs that not only provide the rebounds, but also solid offense and defense. Don’t ever forget about the two guys that really anchor the team. Although they aren’t the top two scoring options on the team, Andre Miller is a savvy vet and Iguodala is very dangerous on both ends of the court. Andre, although not necessarily outplaying Lin, was leading the pack and maintained the teams composure when the Rockets were up by double digits. Iguodala made Harden’s life miserable and provided some very nice plays that energized the crowd. Don’t forget the crowd there. Over 90% win percentage – best in the NBA and best ever since 1999 for home court. For Houston to pull an upset, they would have to play against the Clips, but that’s not gonna happen. Spurs are a good matchup even with Parker like you said, but they are an entirely different team in the playoffs. Gonna be hard for the Rox to pass the first round, but I’m just happy to see Lin and the Rockets get there. I have my fingers crossed for a true Linsanity sequel via the Playoffs which means some injuries will have to happen and the odds are way against Jeremy. Ha. We’ll see.

      • Well said, Jeff. Yeah, the Spurs are a different team in the playoffs. They’re so well coached and have so much composure and great chemistry. Even though Spurs would be a better match up than Denver, Rockets still won’t have much of a chance if Spurs have Parker, since Parker is so clutch. I do like Rockets chances without Parker, though. But, again, Spurs are a different team in the playoffs. So it’ll be tough for the Rockets no matter what. It would, indeed, be Linsanity if Rockets make it past the first round.

  4. Mr. Philosopher, I believe whoever watched the Denver game would remember that possession you mentioned. Harden should have passed the ball to Lin earlier; obviously he was going to do it himself and then changed his mind–only too late. I could have missed other possessions when Harden was ball hogging, but to me it was even more obvious in the first quarter of the previous Sacramento game in which Harden shot whenever he touched the ball. Luckily he had a hot hand then. Parsons did that oftentimes, but not our Lin. This season, I feel he’s way more passive in shooting than last season.
    It seemed that Denever player bumped into Lin, but it should still be a foul nonetheless. Had the foul been called and Lin got to the foul line, he might have got 25 points instead of 23. I’m glad Lin turned out to be the best player of the game and seems to have been more confident in shooting recently. Hopefully he keeps it up in the remaining games and makes it to the playoffs with the Rockets.

  5. Hello Lin fans! Just making Monday conversation here.

    Thank you, Philosopher, for your Portland postgame analysis. I was on the road this past weekend but was lucky enough to catch Lin blaze the Blazers (as I predicted, mind you) on ESPN. I was only able to catch the first half of the Nuggs game. From what I’ve read, Lin was the only Rockets who played well and the rest of the team was gasping for oxygen. The Nuggs are too good a team to be beaten by just one man. Iggy seems to have Harden’s number. When Houston played Denver for the first this season, I arrived early to Toyota Center and caught Iggy practicing alone on the basketball court, hitting shots from all angles and distances. He was smooth as silk and continued to be smooth and deadly during the game. The man is good.

    I am gonna try to get a ticket to watch Lin and the Rockets beat the Sun tomorrow and clinch the playoffs because OKC will beat the Jazzy tomorrow night too! I don’t really care who the Rockets will face in the playoffs. They must go into the playoffs ready to play whoever, believing that they belong and can win it all! Yes, I am delusional; I know. And to top it off, I predict Lin and Company will face the Knicks in the final and Linsanity 2.0 will have the perfect ending.

    OK, I’m outta here before the Philosopher bans me from his site with my irrational exuberance. 🙂

    • Knicks are red hot. I was wrong about them. I thought they’d slow down coming into the playoffs. They’ve recently trounced Miami (again) and they beat OKC last night, which sucks, because I want OKC to be in the number 1 seed so Rockets don’t have to face them. I actually think the Knicks will be the Eastern Conference champs, because they have the Heat’s number. This is crazy, because I think everyone is expecting the Heat to make it to the finals. This is why match-ups are actually more important than a team’s record and this is why I prefer Rockets to face the Spurs rather than the Nuggets.

      I think you have 50% of your Linsanity 2.0 perfect ending correct, so I won’t ban you from the site. 😉 If God is indeed behind Jeremy Lin and using him as some sort of proof that he does exist, then Rockets beating the Knicks in the finals would be proof enough for me. Ha ha. If that happens, then I think all Rockets fans need to convert to Christianity. Ha ha.

      • Thank you, Philosopher, for your understanding. You are the opposite of Lintolerance. On a separate note, do you think the Dubs match up well against the Nuggs?

        Boy, there’s not a whole lot of tickets available for the Suns game. I think the Rockets fans are getting fired up over here.

      • Haha. I’m a LOF, so I can’t claim any expertise on other teams. That being said, I don’t think the Warriors stand a chance against the Nuggets, since Nuggets are a better version of the Rockets and Warriors have a lot of trouble against the Rockets.

        I think a lot of Rox fans want to see their beloved Dragic and Scola, that’s probably why it’s hard to get tix.

      • I agree with you, Philosopher. I figure since you have analyzed both the Dubs and the Nuggs when they played the Rockets, you ought to have some idea how these two teams match up against each other. I went back and checked the records between them and found out that the Nuggs won the series 3-1.

        I still think the Rockets can beat the Nuggs in the playoffs. In the last game, the Rockets were beating the Nuggs in the first quarter. They just ran out of gas. The playoffs will be different. Harden will figure out how to score against Iggy by then. There will be fewer turnovers. I am very optimistic about the Jeremy Lins of this team. The only negative is the coach. And that’s a big minus though.

        Just making conversation, that’s all.

  6. The most Linsane wish would be the Lin-led team winning the NBA championship, not just beating the Knicks, which is one of Lin’s birthday wishes last year.

  7. Been reading your posts since the middle of this season. Just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to do this. You have great insights and your ideas are clear and wonderfully written. Keep it up!

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