Perfect Results Vs. Grizzlies, but Poorly Coached Game by McHale + No Ball/Player Movement by Rockets

Rockets lost to the Grizzlies last night on Harden’s wide open shot that could have sent the game to overtime, so why am I saying that it’s a perfect result? Well, because if Rockets beat the Grizzlies last night, then Denver will surely secure the #3 seed, since they have the tiebreaker against the Grizzlies. But, because the Grizzlies won last night, they still have a shot, albeit a very small chance, of overtaking the Nuggets for the #3 seed. Right now, both the Grizzlies and the Nuggets have identical records, but the Grizzlies have a tougher schedule going into the home stretch (vs. Clippers, at Mavs, and vs. Utah) than the Nuggets (vs. Blazers, at Bucks, and vs. Suns). So the overwhelming odds is that Denver still hangs onto the #3 seed, but that would have been pretty much a certainty if the  Rockets beat the Grizzlies, last night. It was also a perfect result, in my eyes, because the Rockets proved to themselves that they could compete against the Grizzlies and they proved to me that they can win a series against the Grizzlies.

Rockets played with a lot of heart, but they weren’t given much of a chance by McHale’s terrible player rotation and the ball movement has looked really bad ever since Harden has come back into the lineup. That’s a big concern for me that I will go into a little bit more after I rant on about McHale’s terrible usage of players last night. First of all, McHale, once again played Harden the entire second half. He also included Lin in this crazy scheme of his, last night. Both Harden and Lin played an entire second half. McHale doesn’t seem to understand this concept that players need a little rest and he doesn’t seem to grasp that the KEY to his offense is that he needs fresh bodies AT ALL TIMES. That having fresh bodies is probably even more important than having the best players on the court, if he truly runs his offense the way it’s meant to be run. That means stressing that the ball and player need to constantly be moving and consequences will be paid for those who don’t buy into this, with the exception of the Point Guard who has the license to hang onto the ball AT TIMES. We didn’t have fresh bodies out there last night, because McHale played Harden and Lin to death. I can’t blame him too much for trying out the Lin-Harden-Beverly trio, but thought it was pretty ineffective last night. I thought we should have had Garcia out there for a more reliable spot up three and also for defense against a lengthy Prince, so Harden wouldn’t be forced to match up against Prince. Aside from Harden having to expend maybe more energy than he needed to to guard Prince on the defensive end, Prince made Harden’s life on the offensive end tough by making it harder for Harden to shoot over a lengthy Prince (Prince had at least one block on Harden at the three point line). Because of these reasons, I think McHale should have realized this more quickly and brought Garcia back. But McHale stuck with the Lin-Harden-Beverly trio for the ENTIRE fourth quarter, I believe, or nearly the entire fourth quarter. That was another rotational mistake by McHale. The other big rotational mistake came at the end, when McHale brought Delfino back into the lineup for the last possession. I get why McHale would play Delfino some tonight to get the rust out, so I was fine with McHale playing Delfino, even though Delfino had like three air balls from three point. But why in the hell would you go back to a guy that just got back into the lineup and is obviously very rusty for the last possession of the game when you have a guy like Garcia, who’s been shooting like 45%+ from three? That makes absolutely no sense to me and it’s further proof that McHale has some sort of crazy blind spot for Delfino. So ridiculous. As the season is nearing a close and I’ve had a chance to see McHale, I have to say, he’s one of the worst in-game coaches I’ve seen. I’ve never had much of a problem with a coach’s player rotation. I mean, I can’t recall ever complaining about it last year with D’Antoni or Woodson. But this year, it’s become a very common theme in my blog. Player rotation is how a coach directly influences the game and McHale gets an “F” for his player rotation. This Delfino mistake wasn’t the only one player rotation he’s made in end-of-game situations. There have been a disturbingly large number of end-of-game substitution or lack of substitution errors. Too much so for a professional NBA coach. I’m sure Morey and Les see this. I don’t know how anyone can NOT see it.

The other thing that is becoming more and more concerning is that Harden seems to be reverting to Hero Ball mode more and more as the playoff approaches. And I mostly blame McHale for this. Here’s why. Harden is untouchable for McHale, either because McHale worships Harden and doesn’t want to criticize him or because McHale worships Harden and is blinded to all of his mistakes. Harden, once again, almost got another double-double with 8 turnovers last night. Again, I think fatigue plays into this, so McHale is to blame for Harden’s fatigue. But it’s also because I feel like Harden is wanting to be THE hero as the playoffs are approaching and he has been given no consequences for his Hero Balling by McHale, so he has no reason to change. Again, McHale is largely to blame. In fact, I think McHale encourages Harden’s Hero Balling–whether McHale means to do it or not–by the way he relies SOLELY on Harden’s Hero Balling at the end of games. I think this feeds into other parts of the game and it causes the guys to subconsciously stop moving when Harden has the ball at the top of the key, because they expect Harden to just score himself. And when guys aren’t moving, Harden really has no one to pass it to, so this perpetuates Harden’s Hero Balling. Harden also expects to get fouled when he gets in the lane so he presses too much and forces up bad shots, rather than passing to his teammates when he’s driving into a congested lane. Harden had an EXTREMELY RARE (meaning I think it’s the first time I’ve seen it) play last night where he drove into a congested lane and passed it back out to Lin for a game tying three. This play is open to Harden pretty much every time, but I’ve never seen him do it, whereas Lin does this often (probably a little too much) to give his teammates open looks rather than forcing up a bad shot. This is why it baffles me why McHale would think that Harden has better decision making than Lin. Lin, to me, has elite decision-making skills, whereas Harden is only pretty good when it comes to decision-making. Harden misses way too many open teammates. For example, what I see quite a bit is that during transition–not in a fast break context but in a missed shot context–when Harden is dribbling past the half-court, Lin is usually running really hard to Harden’s right and the defense isn’t set. Rather than passing the ball up to Lin to see if Lin can make something happen before the defense gets set, Harden just stops and waits for the defense to set. I see this time and time again. Lin usually has a wide open lane, but Harden is too caught up in figuring out how he’s going to score himself that he misses Lin and his other open teammates and doesn’t take advantage of a defense that isn’t set in transition. Often, the defense is focused on Harden, so this is why other Rockets players are wide open in transition. I have no idea why the coaches aren’t showing this to Harden. How do I know they haven’t shown it to Harden? Because Harden hasn’t changed on bit in this regard. Actually, I do know exactly why they haven’t pointed this out to Harden. It’s because McHale worships Harden and either doesn’t want to point out something that Harden is doing wrong or is blinded to any of Harden’s deficiencies. This is also how Harden can rack up turnovers without consequence. McHale needs to go back to having Lin be the primary point guard. Lin barely played Point Guard last night and that’s a big mistake by McHale. It’s a big reason why the ball got so “sticky”. Also, when Lin checked back in in the beginning of the second quarter, Lin barely touched the ball, because my “favorite” player Delfino still has a blind spot for Lin on the court. I don’t think he passed it to Lin once when they were on the floor together. He would either try and make plays himself or look for Beverly. Lin also wasn’t aggressive enough at calling for the ball. He pretty much just hid in the corner. Lin should be taking over in the beginning of the second quarter now that McHale is giving him the chance to be on the floor without Harden. This is one of the few rotations that McHale has gotten right. McHale’s first half-rotations have been spot on, lately. But then he just has some sort of mental lapse in the second half.

Anyway, enough harping on McHale. I can go on and on, but I’m sure you’re all tired of it. Lets move on. The other reason last night’s result was perfect, in my eyes, is because it had no consequences in terms of how I want the playoff standings to shakeout. The standing pretty much stayed the same, because the Warriors lost against the Lakers. Even though I want Lakers out of the playoffs, I now want the Rockets to get to the sixth seed since there’s still a slim chance that the Grizzlies can overtake the Nuggets for the third spot. Also, the Lakers win last night was fine, because Utah also won, so Utah still has a pretty good chance of knocking the Lakers out of the playoffs–especially now that Kobe has come down with an injury and is probably out for the season. This is even more motivation for me to root for the Lakers out of the playoffs, because Kobe won’t be able to play even if they make it. I hate to see players go down with injuries, but that being said, everything worked out more perfectly than I could have hoped last night form a playoff standings perspective. Also, with Kobe out, the Rockets have a much better chance of beating them in the last game of the regular season. So everything worked out so perfectly last night in the NBA for what I want to see.


22 thoughts on “Perfect Results Vs. Grizzlies, but Poorly Coached Game by McHale + No Ball/Player Movement by Rockets

  1. Thank you for your postgame analysis, Philosopher! Again, I find it hard to disagree with you on anything. 🙂

    As I’ve said many time before, I have given up on McHale as a coach. Using our Philosopher’s terminology, KM has these “fixations” that cannot be easily cured. Not every ex-NBA player is cut out to be a good NBA coach, and KM is not a good NBA coach.

    Harden has played in the NBA for four seasons, and his performance over the years, as indicated by his actions on the court and his boxscores, has shown that he is clutch. However, there should be no doubt that Lin, though with less NBA experience, is equally clutch. Unless McHale and Lin’s teammates believe in Lin and look for Lin during clutch time, the Rockets will not get far in the playoffs. There must be plays drawn up for Lin in clutch time besides just give the ball to Harden. There seems to be none right now. What a shame!

    I was at the game last night. The crowd’s energy was awesome! Disappointing and frustrating loss, but great battle nevertheless! Lin and Harden carried the team in the entire second half and gave everything they had. Everything was laid bare on the floor. If I am to pinpoint the main reason for the loss, it’s the turnovers. Why so many turnovers? I let the pundits analyze it to death.

    Here the video link to the endgame, so to speak, in case your memory is vague about how the game ended. The Rockets had a chance to win, but Lin was completely ignored. 😦

    • McHale’s got three clutch players in Harden, Lin and Parsons. And he’s got two great ball handling clutch players in Harden and Lin. But McHale only uses Harden during clutch time and ignores the rest of the team to their detriment. This is a big reason why Rockets don’t do well in close games. I’ve discussed this before ( I think it’s much wiser to have the ball in your best decision-maker’s hands rather than your best scorer at the end of games. And to me, that’s clearly Lin. I’m not saying to ALWAYS do this. But I’m saying it’s wrong to ALWAYS do the same thing every time and give the ball to Harden and flatten it out. It’s way too predictable and causes everyone to stand around. When the ball is in Lin’s hands Lin has a higher probability of make the right decision and find the optimal play and guys move around when Lin has the ball, since they don’t expect Lin to just go iso. There have been an over reliance on Harden in clutch time and that’s been a detriment to the Rockets, I believe. Too bad McHale is oblivious to this. If Morey and Les are serious about winning a championship in the future, they need to put as much energy into searching for the right coach for this team as they have been at finding the right players. McHale is simply not a championship caliber coach.

  2. Some interesting facts:

    1) Harden has shot 25.7% on 35 attempts in the last 2 minutes of the game.
    2) Lin has shot 77.8% on 9 attempts in the last 2 minutes of the game.

    Now, I do not think this is an apples to apples comparison because of the volume. 77.8% is really high, and I seriously doubt that Lin could sustain that % if he increases his volume. When the volume is THAT low, you expect that he is only taking the shot if it’s a really high quality shot (and probably not getting the ball or passing it to Harden if it is not).

    However, there is no question that 25.7% is WAY TOO LOW. 35 attempts is not a large sample size but even if we add some margin for error, it is clear to me that Harden is being over/improperly used at the end of the game. Like many others, I think that the team is relying too much on Harden ISO’s. At the very least, put him in a position to get better shots either for himself or other players. A wide open, average NBA player is a 100% better choice than having your best player force a difficult shot

    • Great stats, BC! That confirms my eye test. With all of Morey’s stat heads, he’s gotta know this. So frustrating that there’s been absolutely no change to end of game strategies. Right now, Rockets are SO PREDICTABLE in the last 2 minutes of the game. I may need to tweet Morey these stats.

      • If only KM can think like BC and teko…
        Nothing is gonna change, I am afraid…
        On second thought, may be Lin can change all that somehow…
        This is Lin’s biggest challenge in his young NBA career.

  3. Long read, but enjoyed.

    Very nice game yesterday, lots of positives.

    1. We lost, but we lost with a good fight, I like.
    Before the game, I was a bit in debate, not sure whether I want to root Rocket win or lose. I was hoping Rocket to face Grizzlies in the final, I know it is very small chance, but in order to do that, Grizzlies need a win. However, if Rocket just lose, means it is not a good match up for Rockets, then what’s the point of let Grizzlies win? However, as Jeremy always say, “god has a perfect plan”. So Rocket fought, and they fought very hard. I really liked the way Rockets fight, they fought against a very physical team, they fought against inconsistent refs, and they fought against their own frustration. They did not give up, they did not breakdown, they pull themselves from a 17 point hole, and tied up the game at last minute, and they stick within the game till last possession. I feel this is a perfect way to prepare the team physically and mentally for the playoff. I’m so happy to see the team was fighting with their whole heart, and just to hear how loud the Toyota Center becomes, Rockets finally get some love in Houston.

    2. Jeremy played long minutes, and yet he still finished strong.
    Definitely a good sign. He is much better conditioned than the beginning of the season. It’s just so good to see him in good health now. Well, not sure how his elbow goes, and not sure his off night have any relation to that elbow or not, but he still have some good clutch 3s in 4Q. In addition, McHale leave him in for that long, suggested an increased trust from the coach. Thought it could also due to missing Parsons, and also McHale was also testing his new found small line up of Lin+Harden+Beverely, But still a sign of increased trust from McHale, whichever way to look at it, that’s a progress, and we all know how much Jeremy worked towards that. I’m really happy to see Jeremy’s effort is paying off, maybe not to the extend we’d like to see yet, but it is a good direction.

    2.5 I have two positives now, so I could add a half point of not so positive side, it is that Lin was not got to play point too much, he still got his time, gained 5 assists, though he could have more if his teammates could finish, However, I think that he don’t need always organize the offense could saved some of his energy, thus he could last for 45 min he played yesterday. Also, he is balancing his time to score himself vs. set up his teammate. I like to see Jeremy look for his own shots, (as a Lin fan, I’m a bit selfish here.) Also noticed that he becomes much more efficient in setting up his teammates now. I was amazed by him manage to collect 5 assist even it does not feels like he has ball in his hand much, also it feels like he has more than 5 assists, I think he must have some hockey assist somewhere. so, it might not be so positive, but I would not say it is complete negative here.

    3. Harden played D.
    I think in the second half, Harden really tuned up his D. Really good sign, not sure whether he will need a technical to do that or not, just like earlier in the season, Jeremy would tune up a bit of offense when he got bleed, 🙂 JK.

    4. Jeremy got to show his clutch
    I love the two clutch 3 Jeremy shot, and his no look pass for Asik dunk, that 8 point tied the game, So sweet.

    Sorry for the long rant, and some discussion with OP here.

    different from OP, I’m fine with McHale run Jeremy long minute in this game. First of all, the team have a good 2 days rest from previous game, and have another rest in next game without travel, so one game over 45 min sounds okay. As the playoff would always run starters heavy minutes, it is good to get the starters physically and mentally fit into that condition. So, I do hope to see long minutes for Lin the next couple of games, and I wish they also have consistent minutes, so that Lin could pace himself better.

    The other point OP expressed, I also see lots of other people complains about Harden’s last 4 shots. Most people complains the second last shot, where James did not pass to Lin. Well, first of all, I think it is perfectly okay for the last possession, you get your best player ISO, well, Jeremy did that too in that Spurs game. And, as this Rocket team do not run too much sets, it would be really hard for the coaches to draw up a complicate set, and anticipate the players could execute it out. The team were constantly changing their line ups, thus it is hard to build up chemistry in starters and ready to run some sets.

    • You thought this was a long post? You should check out:

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment and your post game. Harden definitely stepped up his D.

      I hear you on the long minutes being okay every now and then. But I still stand by what I wrote about it. Long minutes aren’t horrible every now and then per se. But it’s the no rest for entire halves that I have a particular problem with. I think it’s a mistake to do this, unless you’re extremely short-handed, which the Rockets are not. With D’Antoni and Lin’s situation last season, I could understand D’Antoni “riding Lin secretariat”, because there weren’t any viable back up options for Lin (although I did complain a lot last season about D’Antoni wrongly favoring Baron Davis over Toney Douglas. Once again, it’s amazing to me how coaches sometimes know less about their players than the fans.)

      McHale has played Harden and Parsons for entire halves way more than any coach should this season. That’s dangerous in my view. And McHale has done this to Harden in successive games after Harden just came back from a minor injury. Very bad idea. I heard that D’Antoni played Kobe the entire game against Golden State and now Kobe is out for the season.

      It’s also very clear to me that a lot of Harden’s turnovers and sloppy play has been due to fatigue. It’s hard to make good decisions when you’re tired. When you’re fatigued, decision making is probably the first thing to go. Also, I did think Lin was affected by the long minutes. He may have nailed that three to tie the game, which may have been an indication that his legs were still there, but I think that had more to do with his heart and will to win than his physical condition. Lin had ALL FOUR of his turnovers in the fourth quarter. Harden also got shots blocked and pressed so much in the fourth, partly because he was so tired and when you’re tired, you tend to press more. This is probably more true for Harden, because he’s used being able to draw fouls. So when he’s tired, he relies on his ability to draw fouls heavily, so he’ll try and do that, but when it doesn’t work out, it turns into a terrible shot or a turnover.

      In GENERAL, it is okay to fatten out a good majority of the time in end of game situations. This is very common in the league. I think this is so commonplace in the league, because not too many teams have multiple clutch players who are also great ball handlers and play makers. Rockets happen to be a team that has two guys who are great ball handlers, play makers, and are also clutch, so I think it’s a mistake to fall into the convention. It shows a lack of understanding of your team to use a cookie-cutter approach. I’m fine with Harden being “the man” a majority of the time, but I think to have Harden be “the Man” ALL the time has hurt this team tremendously and it’s the reason why Rockets don’t do well in close games and this is going to really show in the playoffs if McHale continues to follow this cookie-cutter approach blindly. If you have guys like Lin and Harden, you have to have more of a balance. I would say 60% Harden 40% Lin or something like that. I think Lin deserves the ball end of games, because he is actually a better decision maker than Harden. If I were to be completely honest, I would say 60% Lin, 40% Harden, but no one would ever go for that, because they can’t let go of their conventional thinking that the ball has to be in the hands of your best scorer at the end of games. The reason why people can’t let go of this convention is because it’s a tried and true strategy. But that’s because not very many teams have a Lin AND Harden on their team. Rockets also have another clutch players in Parsons. And I think if Lin handles the ball in end of game situations, you have a guy like Parsons that suddenly comes into the fold. Whereas when you have Harden, it’s pretty much everyone ball watching and Harden having to force up a tough shot. Also, I think with guys like Harden and Lin, you don’t really need to run complicated sets. So I don’t see not having set plays as a valid reason for choosing to do ONLY isos in end of game situations. I think this is falling into the convention trap.

      I think it’s wise to not follow conventions blindly, but also not dismiss them blindly. Basically, don’t do anything blindly. But McHale seems to have blinders on quite a bit and it has been a detriment to this team. McHale doesn’t see his players as they are. He sees them through his fixations. I mean, this is partly true for everybody–me included–but I feel like it’s even more extreme for McHale. He has thick blinders on and can’t seem to lift the blinders. He’s also a very slow learner in my view, because he’s so stubborn and holds too strongly to his views. I’ve also never seen McHale actually own up to a clearly bad decision. I’m not sure if it’s because he doesn’t want to own up to them publicly or he doesn’t think they’re bad decisions. I hope it’s the former, at least.

      The thing for Lin fans is that if Lin misses a shot in end of game situations, Lin fans would never hear the end of it. I mean, can you imagine if Lin was the one that missed the wide open shot that Harden missed? But, whatever, that’s just the double-standard that I’m sure Lin is used to by now and as a Lin fan I’m also used to it.

      • finally I got it why people call you “philosopher”, LOL, I’m really new to this site.

        I agree with you, I don’t like McHale’s rotation, heavy minute with Parsons and Harden either. My point it, since we know McHale being McHale, I would not really hoping for him rotate in other people to drop down Key people’s minute, and we could still argue due to Parsons and Delfino out, it was kind of short handed to McHale. Anyway, 45 min for Lin in this game is not that good, but it is not that bad either. I’d rather Lin have some gradual increase of playing time, than suddenly jump up the minute in Playoffs.

        I totally agree with you that we need balanced offense between Harden and Lin, 60% Harden and 40% Lin, I don’t like current 80% + on Harden. Could Harden win games without Lin, I’d say yes, however, that would require Harden give way extra effort, and also he will need hot hand. We could see those games how hard for them to get the win. But when they have balanced offense, it is way easier for the team to win. Unfortunately, a lot of people would say, a win is a win, since we won, it is okay to do whichever way we do, as the out come is right, then it got to be right. I really hated this argument.

        For McHale, by the way he changes his rotation, I would say it is not just stubborn, it is more of how he made his decision. Not sure he is confident on his judgement or not, it looks to me he would not be convinced that when a line up is working, but he would need to run through tests and see that all other method is not working for him to switch to things that work. Not only Jeremy, look at TJ, G. Smith, they all shown nice games early in the season, but McHale just kept refuse to play them, till all other PF failed. That’s really frustrating. I totally agree with you that McHale have a blinder on. Like for Jeremy, TJ, GSmith could only play when no other person is better than them, but totally opposite to Beverely and Parsons.

  4. Some have said that it’s OK that Harden takes the last shot since he’s considered the best player on the team, but what happened in this game was Harden got the last four possessions and blew all of them. On the other hand, some said that had Jeremy taken the last shot and missed, it would have been a disaster for him. But I think in the long term, for the benefit of the team, Lin and the other good shooters on the team should be given the chance too. I figure the reason Harden kept driving to the rim was because his last 3-pointer shot in the previous Phoenix game actually didn’t go in, so instead he charged. In these two games, neither shooting a 3-pointer nor charging to the rim worked. So I’d agree with Philosopher that they should try giving the ball to a good ball handler–even it’s Harden–and making the optimal play. Anyway, I really hope this makes McHale realize that Harden iso is not the only option and that he needs to vary his strategies.

    I think I’m getting to dislike Harden hero ball more and more because Harden’s shooting doesn’t seem as good as before and a lot of times he played poorly on the court, which didn’t happen earlier in the season. I also don’t like to see Harden’s iso play because we’ve seen what Jeremy could do with the team in those two winning games without Harden, though the sample size is rather small. Jeremy must be quite frustrated that McHale’s end-of-game plan didn’t involve him at all. Though he always seems positive about Harden, I wonder what he truly feels about his hero ball. When the Rockets had that 7-game losing streak, 2Pat and Parsons both addressed their discontent about someone’s play, but that hasn’t really changed. Another thing that hasn’t changed is Harden keeps having horrible turnovers. So while our JLin improved over the season, issues with Harden remain the same. To me, the only good thing that happened lately is McHale has begun to play Jeremy earlier and more in the 4th quarter. Hopefully, this won’t change even after Parsons comes back.

  5. i think Harden and McHale purposely threw last nights game.. it’s official.. mchale doesn’t wanna face george karl.. and Harden doesn’t wanna shoot 2 for 18 against andre iguodala.. and get swept.. they are taking their chances with San Antonio..

    • Not sure about that. If that’s the case, then they’re playing a VERY DANGEROUS game, because I think now, I have them going against OKC. I think they’re going to lose to the Lakers and take the 8th spot. For those who love storybook endings, they got what they wanted. Harden gets revenge against OKC and Lin gets revenge on Knicks to take the title. Haha. Seriously, though, I think the odds of them taking the 8th seed and going against OKC are high, which is very very bad.

      • Well, at least this makes the last game of the season exciting to watch. For Rockets, it’s a MUST WIN. I didn’t foresee this scenario, but here we are. If Rockets lose to Lakers, 8th seed here we come.

        Lets also see if the Blazers can hep Rockets out and beat Golden State. But if Rockets lose to Lakers, then it doesn’t matter what happens with the Golden State game. Rockets really screwed themselves by losing a game they should have won. There were several questionable rotation decisions by McHale, but at this point, I sound like a broken record, so I won’t go into the details. Rockets messed up big last night.

      • I think McHale wanted to win last night, otherwise he would not have sent Lin and Harden back in with about 5 minutes left in the game. Harden was stone cold. Correct me if I am wrong, but Lin was running the floor, playing Linsanity style in the 2nd quarter, brought the Rockets back, and actually built a small lead until Harden came back in. Once Harden was back in, Lin seemed to back off and yielded the stage to Harden. And we all saw what happened.

        I have given up on McHale, but I do believe in Lin and Harden. Yes, Harden had an off night but he will come back and play well the next game and the next, etc. It’s ironic that Lin doubters/haters always pick on Lin as being inconsistent, but look who is becoming inconsistent as we are entering the playoffs now! Lin is still figuring out how to play with Harden. Once these two guys jell, the Rockets will become “unbeatable”. And of course, it does take more than one season to jell… I am patient.

      • ‘Just bought Rockets tickets for game 3 and game 4 of the first round of the playoffs! 🙂
        Which team will they play? Don’t care!
        My son and I will be there!

        Lin doubters/haters have always been wrong about Lin and they will be wrong about Lin again the playoffs! My Lin-biased two cents! 🙂

      • That’s awesome, MrPingPong, that you got tix for the playoffs for your and your son. Hope Rockets give you a good show.

        Yeah, I hear you. Just let things play out and enjoy the ride. It would be pretty sweet if Rockets are the ones to knock Lakers out of the playoffs. This Lakers game could go in any way, because there’s no Kobe and no Nash. So pretty much a wild card. I wouldn’t be surprised if we blow them out, or if Lakers end up winning. Really hard to say, because I don’t know what this new look Lakers are capable of with their backs against the wall. Rockets need to play with the same attitude.

        What concerns me going into the playoffs is that McHale still has no clear rotation strategy to me. It seems pretty haphazard. There’s too many guys that he’ll just put in for a little bit like less than 5 minutes and other guys that he’ll play 40 minutes. Anderson, in particular gets toyed around a little too much. I don’t understand how McHale would use Anderson as a starter when Harden was out and then not play him at all when Harden came back. How can you trust a player as a starter in one instance and then not trust him to play any minutes in another.

        Also, Rockets are getting into the habit of ball-watching when Harden has the ball. They also seem to have stopped running after made baskets. Hope they use the practice time to get things back in order. Probably not much they can do about the shaky rotation, because that’s all McHale. But they need to go back to moving the ball from side to side and in and out and get some bodies moving. The players need to be reminded of how to play Rockets basketball. That’s one thing McHale is good at is to get the players to buy into the pace and ball movement.

      • Tonight is going to be interesting. The Lakers without Kobe is sort of like the Rockets without Kobe. Both are without their offensive leader (who sags on defense). I actually believe that the Lakers are better as a team without Kobe (they were able to beat the Spurs recently). They will have 4th quarter closing minutes issues though. Dwight is not dependable offensively down the stretch. His footwork is horrible. Watching him post up is like watching a 6 month old try to crawl. It’s all wobbly and lack finesse. If the Rockets don’t play into the Lakers defense and run the court, they can either blow them out. If they get stuck into Pau’s and Dwight’s preferred pace of play and Harden/Lin are unable to drive into the lanes with those bigs clogging the paint, the Rockets might lose. But if the pace changes throughout the game like a tug of war and the scoreboard is close by the end of the game, the Rockets will most certainly prevail. Dwight can’t shoot free throws and lack a dominant inside game like Shaq or Hakeem. If they go through Pau, they have a much better chance. Lin and Harden should try to capitalize on their lack of depth in the backcourt. As hot as Steve Blake was in the last game, I don’t expect him to be a Nash clone. I don’t think Nash will be back tonight. If he does, I don’t expect a big difference either. I’d love for the Rockets to kick the Lakers out of the playoffs, but I also want Nash get a chance to play without Kobe and finally play his style of game with D’Antoni in the playoffs.

      • The other BIG factor for tonight’s game: the refs.

        It’s an exacting last day of the season. Go Rockets! Go Blazers! Go Clippers! Go Suns! Go Jazz!

    • You have it all figured out, right Philosopher? May your wish all come true tonight!
      Rockets win, Blazers win, Clippers win, Suns win, Jazz win, and not only your beloved Lakers are out of the playoffs but the Rockets get to play the Toe Nail Clippers in the first round!

      One BIG question mark though! Will McHale be outcoached by your favorite D’Antoni tonight? Ha ha… 🙂

    • Thanks for the link, BC! Great interview. I’m excited about all the things Doc wants to work on with Jeremy. They cover a lot of things I want Lin to work on, like the 2 foot floater. I also hope they work on short jumpers, as well as stopping short in the lane and different moves in the lane, like pump faking to draw fouls.

      I hope Lin doesn’t take a long trip to China this summer and stays in the states to work on his game. I feel like he didn’t get to work on his game as much as he needed to because of his hectic schedule. His knee recovery probably had a lot to do with it, as well. It’s exciting to think that he’ll come back an even better player next season.

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