Rockets, Full of Jeremy Lins, Make Playoffs In Spite of, Not Because of McHale

NOTE: If you’re going to read this post, please read the ENTIRE post and give me the chance to at least lay out my argument, before you dismiss it, based on just reading the headline of the post. Also, you may think I’m a McHale-Hater, but if you followed this blog since the beginning of the season, you’ll know that I was a McHale defender early on, because I wasn’t familiar with his coaching and I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt. Anyway, read on and it’ll all be clear what I’m trying to convey.

The Houston Rockets is a team that’s made up of a bunch of Jeremy Lins. In other words, it’s made up of a bunch of guys who have suddenly been giving bigger roles than the ones they had prior to joining the Rockets and also guys who don’t quite fit the mold of a good to great basketball player:

  • Asik: from bench to starter
  • Lin: from third or fourth big name on a team to “face of the Franchise” (that is prior to Harden’s arrival)
  • Harden: from third best player, 6th man on a team to best player, starter on a team
  • Parsons: from second round pick no name rookie to one of the leaders on the team

Because Rockets are full of Jeremy Lins, analysts severely underrated their capabilities (granted, they had a lot of reasons for doubting this young squad full of first-time starters). As a result, Analysts didn’t have very high hopes for the Rockets. In fact, there was a general consensus that the Rockets wouldn’t win more than 29 games (I believe that was the over-under in Vegas, as well as the over-under for some analysts). I don’t go onto message boards very often, but here’s a message board posting I made back on November 1st on The Dreamshake:

Post on Dreamshake about Underrated Rockets

The mistake that a lot of analysts and Rockets fans made was to let their preconceptions of these players get in the way of actually seeing these players for their innate abilities and attributes. It’s the same mistake that Lin Doubters/Haters made (and are still making) with Lin. Lin just doesn’t look the part and doesn’t have the “right” background to be a very good player. And this is sort of the same thing that went on in people’s preconceptions of the Rockets: a starting lineup of bench players and second round picks can’t possibly win more than 29 games!

To me, although I understood where people were coming from, I thought the absurdly low expectations many fans and analysts had of this team was ridiculous. What I saw was a starting lineup of very talented players with unique basketball skills, high basketball IQs, strong work ethic and high character. I saw a starting lineup of guys who have potential to have great chemistry on the floor, because of their unselfishness. So I didn’t hesitate to say on a post on October 29, 2012 that the Rockets are a LOCK to make the playoffs. I looked past the preconceptions that hold so many back (not just as basketball fans and analysts, but in life in general) and saw the players as they are, not based on my judgments of them.

So what does all of this have to do with McHale? I’m getting to that. A lot of analysts and fans are giving credit to McHale now that the Rockets have made the playoffs. It’s something that they didn’t think was even within the realm of possibility, but rather than giving credit to the players, they reasoned that it was McHale who got a bunch of bench players and no names to play well and make it to the playoffs. In other words, analysts/fans highly underrated the Rockets’s players, because of their own erroneous preconceptions, and rather than admitting that their initial judgments of the players were wrong, they work on the assumption that they were right about the players, but somehow McHale got all these players to play much better then they were capable of. What has really happened is that the players played EXACTLY the way they are capable of. Because I didn’t let preconceptions get in the way of evaluating these players’ capabilities, the Rockets did EXACTLY what I expected them to do back in October 29, 2012: make the playoffs. To me, it’s unfortunate that McHale is being given credit for basically being at the right place at the right time. This is unfortunate, because McHale has actually been more of a hindrance than a help to the Rockets. By giving McHale credit he doesn’t deserve, it covers up the reality that McHale has performed well below average as a coach this season and should probably be fired, rather than be a candidate for Coach of the Year. People who think he should be a candidate for COY only see the surface of things and draw simplistic conclusions.

In the beginning of the season, I really liked the game plan that McHale had for this young Rockets team: uncomplicated, free-flowing offense. I loved McHale’s emphasis on ball movement/player movement, as well as running after every possession. He also appeared to have the trust of the players. So this is why I was a defender of McHale early in the season and these are the things I still like about McHale. The ESSENTIAL question to ask, when evaluating McHale is whether or not you think any average coach would have been able to do these things or is this unique to McHale. Here’s where I stand on this question:

  • Any average coach would have been able to come up with the uncomplicated, free-flowing offense. From an X’s and O’s perspective, there’s not much to it.
  • Ball movement/player movement is something that every coach emphasizes, but not every coach can actually get their players to do it. Rockets have players who are unselfish and willing to share the ball, so that makes McHale’s job easier. I would give McHale a little credit for this, but with McHale’s free flowing offense, it is often very confusing to players about where they should move to on the floor. So points deducted for that. So I pretty much come out on this with giving a tiny bit of credit for McHale for ball movement/player movement.
  • Running after made baskets is something that I give McHale the most credit for, because that’s something that every coach says, but not many coaches have the patience to keep preaching it over and over and over until it is ingrained in the players. McHale did this and he did a god job of this earlier and midway through the season, but I think even he has lost some patience with this. I deduct points for McHale’s poor management and usage of player minutes, which makes it very hard for players to run after every possession, because he has tired them out by playing them too many minutes without rest. So at the end of the day, McHale gets a pretty good amount of credit for this, but less than you would think, because of his poor management of player minutes.
  • McHale is often called a player’s coach and it appears that many of the players do enjoy playing for him. They have good rapport with him. Players have good rapport with a good number of coaches, simply because of the nature of the relationship. So McHale just gets some credit for this. Rockets are also full of high-character guys, so I think pretty much any average coach can come in and elicit a similar level of respect and comradery. So, again, McHale gets less credit than you would think, because it’s easy to have rapport and comradery when you’re coaching a bunch of high-character guys.

Overall the positive things that McHale provides, I think pretty much any average coach can provide to a similar extent. Maybe McHale does these things slightly better than the average coach. If McHale performed every other aspect of his coaching duties at an average level, then I wouldn’t have too much of a problem with McHale. And this explains why I was a McHale defender earlier in the season. I hadn’t seen him coach enough to fairly evaluate how he performs in in-game situations. All of the positive things McHale does that I mentioned above has to do more with off the court coaching duties, such as providing an overall offensive scheme/structure and player communication. My attitude back then was that there are better coaches out there, but McHale is good enough. I mean, if Morey and Les thought there was someone else they could bring on who can do a better job, I wouldn’t have complained, but at the same time, I wasn’t calling for his head.

Now that I’ve had a chance to see McHale perform for an entire season, I’ve been very disappointed with him as a coach overall. He performs below average or well below average on every other aspect of coaching from player evaluation to player rotation and has committed an alarming number of in-game mistakes and lacks any sort of end-of-game strategy. As the season wore on, I accumulated more and more evidence that McHale is a terrible coach and that’s why I went from being a McHale defender in the beginning of the season (when all I knew of McHale was his general free-flowing offensive scheme) to calling for his head now at the end of the season. I’m not just calling for his head, because I’m a LOF and don’t like the way he’s been misusing Lin, I’m calling for his head as a basketball fan who has been shocked by the number of mistakes McHale has made as a coach. I have nothing against McHale as a person and he has been through a lot this season. I also think he is great at communicating with his players. I’d be fine with keeping him on as some sort of motivational coach or an assistant coach or something. For example, I give a lot of credit to McHale for making the correct decision to show the players clips of them when they were rolling to get them over the psychological drain of losing seven games in a row, rather than dwelling on their mistakes. But McHale is not ready to coach an NBA team–especially one that has aspirations of becoming championship contenders. If Morey and Les are serious about making the Rockets championship contenders, they need to find a coach who can help take the Rockets to the next level or at least a coach who won’t get in the way. It’s hard to prove a “what if” but I do believe that Rockets would have had a much better record and maybe been a 50+ team if McHale wasn’t the coach. It is said that players lose blow outs and coaches loose close games. Well, the Rockets have not been good in end-of-game situations this season, and I think the blame rests squarely on McHale. If we just got at least ONE of those close games back, the Rockets are playing the Spurs with a very good chance of advancing to the second round. This alone should be a fire-able offense, because it has direct playoff implications. Again, if Morey and Les are serious about being championship contenders, they need to look long and hard at this.

For those who say that this is not fair, because I’m not looking at all the games that McHale made good decisions. I say, the games that McHale made good decisions, any average coach would have made those same decisions. In fact, I can only think of ONE decision McHale made that can be called somewhat unique that won the game and that was going with Beverly in the Magics game and benching Lin. But even I (a LOF) would have done that in that game, so I think any old coach would have done that. So McHale has really made NO positive in-game decisions that any average coach wouldn’t have made and he has made PLENTY of poor in-game decisions that any average coach wouldn’t have made. To me, this is the definition of a way below average coach.

Throughout the season, McHale has committed many mistakes and poor judgments. Here are just a few. NOTE: What follows is admittedly poorly written, because I’m more concerned about just throwing out a bunch of evidence, rather than the prose, so feel free to skip over this part unless you are looking for specific evidence for McHale being a below average coach.

  • Lack of end-of-game strategy. McHale’s end-of-game strategy amounts to giving Harden the ball ALL THE TIME and praying Harden does something. When I refer to “end-of-game” I’m not just talking about the very last possession. I’m talking about the last few minutes of a close game. Sometimes, McHale’s “strategy” works, but most of the time, it ends up with Harden turning the ball over, throwing up a prayer, throwing up highly contested shots, or giving it up to his teammate with the clock winding down, because he can’t figure out what to do with it. The problem with McHale’s strategy, is that when Harden has the ball, everyone just stands around ball-watching, waiting to see what Harden is going to do. Since McHale doesn’t run any sets, players don’t know where to move on the court, because they don’t want to mess up the spacing for Harden. I get that this is a strategy that a lot of teams employ: iso your best player. 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. McHale ONLY uses Harden during clutch time and ignores the rest of the team to their detriment. Rockets become a one-man team. I actually 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. Go here for a more detailed discussion: 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. Rockets also have another clutch player 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. There have been an over reliance on Harden in clutch time and that’s been a detriment to the Rockets, I believe. It has caused us to lose a lot of close games and this is all on McHale.
  • Poor understanding of his players. McHale’s singular focus on Harden during clutch time points out that McHale is actually blinded to the talent on his team. He doesn’t recognize that Parson and Lin are actually clutch players in their own right and have the ability to deliver in end-of-game situations. McHale also has fixations on a lot of his players–either seeing only faults or only strengths. He doesn’t seem to see them as they are. With certain players, he’ll stick with them no matter what and relies on them heavily, even when they’re clearly not doing well. Delfino is a great example of this. Ever since Delfino messed up his elbow a couple of months or so ago, Delfino hasn’t been the same player. His shot has been unreliable, going 2 for 10 from three on some nights. Delfino also tries to do too much on the court and often turns the ball over. But McHale can’t seem to see any of Delfino’s faults, since Delfino was his only veteran player in the beginning of the season. So McHale let this fact cloud his judgment of Delfino. McHale also inexplicably uses Beverly as a floor general, even though Beverly is just a talented defender, but an inadequate floor general. McHale also over-value’s Beverly and finds every reason to keep Beverly on the floor. It’s as if 1 good thing Beverly does counts as 4 good things that Lin does. I’m a fan of Beverly for his defense and his energy, but McHale often rides Beverly for too long–past the time that Beverly is effective. Beverly is an energy guy and should only be used sparingly. Beverly also shouldn’t not be used as the floor general anywhere close to 100% or even 50% of the time when he’s on the floor. And, of course, the big one is McHale’s lack of understanding in Lin’s game, as well as his doubt in Lin as a player. I’ve beat this horse to death, so there’s no need to say anymore about it here. If you want more information, you can watch: Also, McHale has been a big reason for Lin’s struggles early in the season. Go here for a more detailed breakdown: Since Lin is a key player on the Rockets, I think McHale has hurt the team by his lack of trust in Lin and his misuse of Lin. Had Lin been allowed to play Lin’s game more this season, I think the Rockets would have been a 50+ winning team, but again, it’s hard to prove a “what if.” Just to give you an idea, however, here are a few games in which Lin was not just misused (since Lin is misused all season and continues to be misused), but not used or under-used altogether (in terms of minutes) that MIGHT have made the difference in Rockets winning the game: Benching Lin vs. Lakers on April 17, 2013 (McHale sat Lin with 4:24 to play in the third and didn’t bring Lin back again until 6:19 to go in the fourth, even though Lin was hot in the third); vs. Dallas on March 6, 2013; vs. Indiana on March 27, 2013 (; vs. Denver on January 30, 2013 (; vs. Dallas on December 8, 2012
  • Poor management of player minutes. McHale plays Harden and Parsons to death–even though Rockets have players who are capable of spelling both players. Anderson is a player who has been severely under-utilized by McHale, because McHale doesn’t trust ANYONE to spell Harden. But I don’t understand why McHale would trust Anderson to start in place of Harden when Harden was injured, but then not play Anderson any minutes when Harden isn’t injured. That rationale doesn’t make too much sense to me and I think has to do with McHale’s fixations. There have been far too many games in which Harden plays an entire half with no rest. Same with Parsons, although McHale is finally trusting Garcia (again his eyes were only opened due to injuries when he was forced to play Garcia big minutes in the Clippers game on March 30, 2013 to spell Parsons towards the end of the season. Most recent examples of McHale playing Harden to death: vs. Pacers on March 27, 2013 McHale played Harden for the entire second half in a game in which Harden was clearly struggling and playing hurt, which resulted in Harden having to sit out the next couple of games due to injuries. And when Harden came back, McHale, again played Harden for entire second halves vs. Suns on April 9, 2013 and vs. Grizzlies on April 12, 2013. McHale severely over-utilizes a few players and under-utilizes the rest of the team. I think this is even more misguided considering that McHale’s ENTIRE offensive scheme relies on having fresh bodies that can hustle up and down the court. I think for McHale’s offense to run the way he designed it, it’s actually more important to have fresh bodies than to run a few guys to the ground, because you don’t trust anyone else. Also, McHale’s poor management of player’s minutes is partly responsible for Rockets’s turnovers. In particular, Harden has been racking up the turnovers in those games that he played the entire second half: 9 turnovers vs. Suns and 8 turnovers vs. Grizzlies.
  • Player Match-Up Mistakes. Going with a Lin-Harden-Beverly lineup vs. Grizzlies on April 12, 2013. This lineup was clearly ineffective (having both Beverly and Lin on the court didn’t do much against the Grizzlie’s lineup), but McHale stuck with it for the ENTIRE fourth quarter, I believe, or nearly the entire fourth quarter, simply because of his fixation on Beverly. McHale wants to play Beverly any chance he gets and since he knew he’d be ridiculed for benching Lin, he kept that ineffective trio in the game, when he 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). Using Delfino as a Power Forward against Gasol vs. Lakers on April 17, 2013. This is so obviously bad that I don’t even feel the need to explain it. This being said, player match-up is probably the one in-game area in which McHale actually does do a good job of. He is very versatile with the lineup and will make quick changes depending on the flow of the game. But this only applies to any player that’s not named Harden, Parsons, Delfino and Beverly.
  • Slow learner who doesn’t seem to recognize what works and what doesn’t. One example, of course, is McHale’s insane end-of-game tactics. The defninition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. McHale is, indeed, insane when it comes to his end-of-game tactics and he has made no progress the entire season. He also seems to fail to learn what works and what doesn’t. The Rockets played their best ball back in December when the talk about Lin-Harden co-existing really heated up and McHale started really focusing on making it work. After Lin had his breakout game against the Knicks, McHale FINALLY let Lin be the primary floor general and he also staggered Lin’s and Harden’s minutes. The result was one of the best stretches the Rockets had with blowouts against a very strong Grizzlies team, as well as the Bulls. Inexplicably, McHale has gone completely away from this and seems to have stopped trying to make the Lin-Harden synergy work. He seems to have disregarded all of it and stopped staggering Lin’s and Harden’s minutes, even though that clearly was working. The strategy for making the most of Linharden is so clear to me. I don’t understand why McHale still doesn’t get it. When Lin and Harden is on the floor, Let Lin be the floor general 65% to 75% of the time. Either Lin or Harden should be on the floor at all times or nearly all the time. When Lin or Harden is on the floor without the other, Lin or Harden should be the floor general 80% to 90% of the time. Beverly should rarely be used as the floor general. Beverly should generally be used as the floor general to give Lin or Harden a rest from ball-handling duties. Right now, McHale has the usage of Lin, Harden and Beverly so backwards it’s laughable. Harden is on the floor pretty much 100% of the time so there’s no chance for Lin to be on the floor without Harden. And he’s even inexplicably sat both Lin and Harden and let Beverly be the only ball handler on the floor. Lin is rarely on the floor without Harden and when Harden is on the floor with Beverly, Beverly is the primary floor general, but when Lin is on the floor with Harden, Harden is the primary floor general. McHale has had an entire season to learn about his players and how to play them, but I don’t see him making any measurable progress. It takes a lot for McHale to change his views. I think this is partly why Morey traded away the Power Forward lineup to force McHale to play the other Power Fowards on the team. It also took injuries to Harden and Parsons for McHale to discover that Garcia is someone who deserves to be in the rotation. TJones is another player that McHale took a long time to trust to play any minutes–even though he was stellar in the pre-season, in the summer league and in the D-league. And Anderson has been a guy that’s been forgotten all season and McHale still doesn’t recognize that Anderson can actually spell Harden and keep Harden fresh and less turnover prone. As a coach, you’re the closest to the players, so there’s no excuse for not having a deep level of understanding of their capabilities and how to use them. McHale seems to only see his players through his preconceptions of them and it takes McHale a very very long time to break free of these preconceptions and see the players as they are.
  • Specific Boneheaded In-Game mistakes. Left Harden in after he picked up his fourth foul with less than a minute left to go in the third quarter vs. Spurs on December 28, 2012. Harden ended up committing his 5th foul before the end of the third quarter and had to sit out for most of the fourth quarter. For more info go here: There were also a few games in which he lost track of Asik and left Asik on the bench when we needed him to get rebounds in end-of-game situations when the opponent was shooting free throws. I don’t remember specifically which games these were, but I do remember that the opponent got offensive rebounds off of their missed free throws and not having Asik in cost us those games.

If you’re still doubtful about whether or not McHale should be given most of the credit for the Rockets making the playoffs, just ask yourself this question: Would McHale be as successful coaching on another team? I think we already have the answer to that, because McHale did unsuccessfully coach on another team (granted he is a little more experienced now). Would the Rockets have made the playoffs with another coach? I’ll leave this answer up to you.


18 thoughts on “Rockets, Full of Jeremy Lins, Make Playoffs In Spite of, Not Because of McHale

  1. Mr. Philosopher, I’m impressed by your relentless effort to give the best reasoning–this time, I suppose, with the intention of pushing for the riddance of McHale as the Rockets’ coach. You’re right on about McHale being at the right place at the right time, as we all know that early during the season, two coaches (the Brooklyn Nets’ and the Lakers’) got fired for poor team performances, and right after the season, more coaches got fired or quit for the same reason. But McHale probably won’t go after the playoffs, perhaps not even in the two years when Lin likely stays a Rocket. For one thing, Morey seems to approve of McHale’s end-of-game-iso strategy, saying “pretty much every NBA team increases their use of isolation late&close.”
    I have a feeling that those two–McHale and Morey–enjoy quite a good relationship and the Rockets organization doesn’t see McHale as so poor a coach that deserve to be sacked. They would just see these close-game failures as some unsuccessful experimental attempts, since this is their first season playing together, which is also Harden’s first season being the closer. (Wait! Harden used to be a 6th man, he wasn’t playing PG in the past, not to mention being a game closer, right?–talking about blind trust.) I have to admit that being a LOF makes the whole thing even more unbearable, but at this point, I could only try to remain optimistic and hope they’ll figure things out next season.

    In the one-on-one interview with Howard Chen Lin said only nice things about McHale. But I think he just draws a line between the on-court and off-court situations. He knows he has no control about the coaching decisions and he’d only focus on getting better himself. Right after the game, our boy thanked the fans for their support throughout the season. I believe he’s the only player to make the gesture. What a great thoughtful young man he is!

    • Just trying to open people’s eyes. Wish it was as easy as people just trusting what I say blindly, because I have been a lot more right than wrong about this team. Haha. It’s a lot of effort providing all the “evidence” to back up what I’m saying, but I guess someone’s gotta do it. There’s a lot more “evidence” that I didn’t include, because I was trying to keep this post somewhat readable.

      As for Morey’s Reddit response…I take anything anyone says in the public sphere with a grain of salt. It’s rare when a GM or a player or a coach says something negative about a GM or a player or a coach. So I don’t expect Morey to call out McHale’s coaching in public. However, I do think that Morey was being truthful for the most part in his Reddit response about Iso’s late in games. It is exactly what I would expect Morey to say, because, like I said, Iso’s late in games are common in the league, so I don’t expect Morey to go away from this tried and true strategy–especially since he’s as big of a fan of Harden as McHale is. But I also think that Morey has looked into the data and can see that Harden’s Iso’s is a low percentage play for the Rockets. So I think most of what he said in the Reddit interview is what he believes, but I don’t think he would go into detail about the negatives in the public sphere.

      I agree with you that I don’t expect Morey to sack McHale during the off season–especially since the Rockets made the playoffs. I think they’ll stick with McHale, which is why I continue to tweet Morey my posts about McHale. If I had confidence that Morey is planning on firing McHale, I wouldn’t bother campaigning for McHale’s removal.

      • Nope, because McHale “took” an inexperienced team to the playoffs, he is not gonna go away any time soon. But then may be he will learn and get better! Who knows? Linsanity is contagious! Resistance is futile! 🙂

        Have a good Lin’s 1rst playoff game everybody, wherever you are on this WEB!

      • I know this may sound odd, but the other reason Morey is in favor of McHale is precisely because McHale is an inexperienced coach. The general structure of the Rockets’s offense is formed not really by McHale but more by Morey and Les. Rockets are playing Morey Ball out there to a large extent, taking mathematically advantageous shots on the court. Because McHale hasn’t carved out an identity for himself as a coach, he is willing to buy into Morey’s overall schemes. I’m not saying that McHale is a Morey Puppet. I’m just saying that Morey knows McHale is not a very good coach, but at least is willing to go along with Morey’s scheme’s, since McHale’s got nothing better. So Morey is concerned that if he brings in a “good” coach, that coach may not be as willing to go along with Morey’s overall scheme, since that coach may have schemes that he feels a strong attachment to. I think that’s the dynamic between Morey/McHale (and it’s not something you’ll probably read about, since neither of them are going to publicly admit something like this) and that’s one of the other reasons why I don’t see McHale going away anytime soon.

  2. Half way through reading Coach K’s “Leading with the heart: Coach K’s successful strategies on basketball, business and life”. Wish KM had read the book, he would be a much much better coach for sure. Well, maybe I should send him a copy.

    Remember Lin quoated his college coach, saying “When we win a game, everything isn’t right. And when we lose a game, everything isn’t wrong” recently ? That is actually from Coach K. Amaker, Lin’ college coach , played for Duke under Coach K, and later became Coach K ‘s assistant coach in Duke.

    Even though half way through the book, I have been thinking even if KM implements half of Coach K’s principles on his coaching, ROX will be a totally different team. I don’t like KM at all! But for Lin’s sake, I will send KM a copy of the book, hoping he will have a peek of the book. Am I a crazy fan or not?

  3. So in short, you claim you are not a Mchale hater, but you do nothing but bash Mchale to protect your beloved hero Jeremy Lin. Jeremy Lin is a really great person, but I honestly believe he is just an average-to slightly above average NBA point guard. I mean did you see the way an elite player like Russell Westbrook just dominated him 2 nights ago? Mchale is probably in the same boat. An average to slightly above average coach. You make some good points about where Mchale could improve, but this criticism does not seem constructive, and obviously you would not even be talking about this if Lin were not on the Rockets, you would probably just be criticizing the coach of whatever team Lin was on. Of course your twisted mind thinks when the Rockets win, it is in spite of Mchale, and when they lose it is because of him. But I am just as biased as you are except in the opposite direction so lets just let the unbiased OKC Thunder decide everything in the next three games. Ultimately Morey and Alexander will be the decision makers, not you, thank God, and they seem to be riding the Harden/Mchale train pretty hard.

    • I’m responding to you, because you seem sincere, but I’m probably wasting my time, because it seems like you already have your mind made up about what I’m all about, since you bring up issues that I’ve already addressed in my very long post. For example, I already explained why I’m not a McHale hater and the transition I’ve made from the beginning of the season about McHale to where I am at now. And my complaints about McHale go well beyond just how he played Lin, as you can see from my very long post. So it’s not about “protecting my beloved hero Jeremy Lin” as you put it. I don’t base my opinions of coaches solely on how they treat Lin. If you followed my blog from the very beginning, this would be obvious to you. For example, I was even more harsh about my criticisms of D’Antoni as a coach, than I have been recently of McHale. And I think you would agree that D’Antoni is a Lin fan. I complimented Woodson as a coach, even though I felt he was not just a Lin Doubter, but a Lin Hater:

      So your preconception that I’m a LOF, so I must be complaining about McHale to protect Lin falls flat. As if that isn’t enough evidence, here’s some more. As I stated in my blog, I was a McHale defender early in the season. Here’s an excerpt from a post back in January:
      ” I also need to give McHale credit for his coaching overall. I think McHale does a great job of really letting the guys do what they do best and just getting out of their ways (with the big exception of Lin early on in the season). He also understands match ups very well and is very versatile about the line ups and will make quick line up changes depending on the flow of the game. It’s very critical for coaches to be able to do that, because this is how coaches have a direct impact on the game. So far McHale has really impressed me with this skill. Also, the fact that the Rockets were able to turn around that Bucks game so dramatically is a testament to McHale. I’ve always believed that the third quarter belongs to the coaches, because that’s the quarter after they’ve had a chance to digest the game and make adjustments during half-time. Good coaches make the right adjustments and find ways of firing up their squad.”

      To me, a Hater is someone who has already made up their mind about hating someone or something and sticks to their views even though they have evidence to the contrary. It’s a little like what you’ve done with my post. You’ve made up your mind about what my post is about and disregarded things I wrote in my post that didn’t comport with your views, even though I addressed things you brought up in your reply to my post in my long post, such as me being a McHale hater.

      I’m not a McHale hater. I am someone who tries to see things as they are as much as I can, knowing full well that I have my own biases. But how my mind works is that it forms opinions, but is open to changing my opinions if I encounter new information that goes against my original opinions. My opinion of McHale early in the season, as you can see, was positive. But (as I stated in my post), as the season wore on I encountered more and more information that went against my initial opinion of McHale. So I have changed my mind about McHale. It wasn’t like I started out hating McHale and only looked for evidence that he’s a bad coach to strengthen my hatred for him. That’s what being a Hater is. Thus, I am not a McHale hater, based on my definition, at least.

      There have been very few examples of when Rockets win BECAUSE of what McHale UNIQUELY brings to the table. Of course, Rockets need a coach. Every team needs a coach to win, because every player needs one game plan to work off of. My point is that I have not seen any examples of the team winning because of something that McHale brought to the table that any average coach wouldn’t have been able to. Whereas I provided specific examples of instances where McHale has lost games due to something McHale has brought UNIQUELY to the table. You make the statement about my “twisted mind”, but then you don’t provide any examples of your own. How is it that you can say my mind is “twisted” when I provided specific examples to back up my biased opinion, but somehow you don’t feel the need to bring up examples to back up your opinion. That your opinions is somehow factual and doesn’t require any “evidence”? At least you admit that you’re biased. So that’s why I took your post as being sincere and it’s why I gave you the courtesy of a reply.

    • Well, I find personal attack here, especially where words like “your twisted mind” are used. I think we all agree that each one is entitled to his/her own opinion. And When you disagree with someone, you refute them by providing convincing arguments, and one thing you shouldn’t do is resort to name-calling or labeling someone as some XX-hater. Yet unfortunately, that’s what we have here. I have to say whoever does that is exposed—it shows how weak they are in reasoning.

      I’d also like to make some more points here:
      1. Re “you do nothing but bash McHale to protect…Lin”—In Philosopher’s post, at least four good things about McHale are recognized, so he isn’t “bashing” McHale all the way. Also, most of the discussion is about how the team could have been better without McHale’s poor or inappropriate coaching, much less about “protecting” Lin. Therefore, such an accusation is untruthful and misleading; In fact, it’s an distortion.
      2. You could say Lin is an average (to slightly-above-average) player and he was “dominated by an elite player like Russell Westbrook. But we all know this is just his first complete season and his first playoff game—compared to Westbrook, he’s a rookie, yet one with great potential who has played an important role in helping the team make the playoffs. Any elite player could have an off night, and I could still recall the first game against OKC in which Harden was totally “dominated” by Kevin Durant.
      3.Is McHale an “average to slightly above average coach”? I’d say more people would disagree, after seeing his coaching this season. It doesn’t take a basketball expert to question his rotations and his handling of end-of-game situations—his always “iso-Harden” strategy has failed too many times.
      4. “Ultimately M and A… will be the decision makers, not you, Thank god.”—I don’t think this is a sensible, meaningful statement to make; it’s sour and even offensive. No doubt it’s up to the GM and the owner of the team to choose the coach. But we as supporters of the Rockets and Lin, we make suggestions and offer criticism because we care. And I’d welcome a a more competent and better coach for the Rockets. However, most of us believe that McHale will be staying, so let’s hope he sees his mistakes and will improve along with the team next season.
      5. Re “They seem to be riding the Harden/… train pretty hard.” Indeed they do, but let’s ask the questions: Is it good to rely so much on just one player? Have they run enough plays other than iso-Harden? Well, I think the answers have been readily provided in this and previous posts of Mr. Philosopher.

  4. This is what I posted in another forum:
    The True Shooting of Lin and Harden

    I would like to share some of the facts: “True Shooting Percentage” (TS%), which is a value to include free throws %, thus is a better overall number for evaluating shooting efficiency of a player. It’s definition can be found here:

    Monthly TS% of the team, Harden and Lin :

       Team  Harden Lin
    11 46.32% 44.87% 40.80%
    12 49.86% 49.11% 50.36%
     1 48.64% 45.86% 43.66%
     2 52.72% 55.41% 47.70%
     3 48.50% 46.72% 50.00%
     4 48.24% 43.58% 47.79%

    That of Harden’s and Lin’s are plotted:
        True Shooting % (Season 2012-13)
          [ o:Lin, x: Harden ]
        |        x     |
      54-              -
        |              |
      52-              -
        |              |
      50-  o        o  -
        |  x           |
    % 48-        o  x  o
        |              |
      46-     x        -
        x              |
      44-     o        x
        |              |
      42-              -
        o              |
       11 12  1  2  3  4
    The reason I present these data is that some claimed that they didn’t judge Lin by that one playoff game only, but by his overall seasonal performances.

    However, the data shows:

    1. Like many other observed, Lin is improving over the season;
    2. Lin’s shooting out-performances Harden’s by quite an edge in the last two months ;
    3. Unlike many want to believe how good Harden is, he is actually shooting very badly and maintains at terrible performance for more than a month.
    4. In the past two months (3,4), Harden’s TS% is below the team’s (Team/Harden: March= 48.5/46.7, April=, 48.2/43.6). It is a sign that Harden’s shooting has become a dragging burden for Rockets’ game.

    This doesn’t excuse Lin for his terrible play in the 1st game of playoff (TS=25%). But, like many already argue, this is “one-game-only” in terms of Lin’s overall performance, which is more consistent than Harden’s.

    On the other hand, Harden’s TS% in this playoff game, 45, is about the same awful level he has been keeping since the beginning of March.

    That is: both played badly in the first game, the difference is that Lin is worse than his average, but Harden played “as terrible as he did” prior to the playoff.

    Besides, as the data show, Lin is more consistent in maintaining good TS%, but Harden has been struggling. We can logically project that Lin is more likely to go back to his normal (like TS%=49) than Harden’s going back to that same level from his recent low 45%.

    Note that this data takes FT into account, which should be favoring Harden.

    So I wonder where all those complaints about Lin come from. People argue idea like that should have their “feelings” checked against the facts.

    In fact, what we really need to worry is Harden, because he is treated by the coaches, by the media and by fans as the leading scorer, and he also takes that responsibility onto his shoulder, his terrible shooting will contribute much more to a loss than any other players who shoot much less.

    • Dear all,

      I apologize that the previous data I showed was wrong (thanks to Marcus1 in other forum for pointing that out) by missing a factor of 0.44 (refer to the definition of TS%). It results in underestimation of all TS%, with Harden’s more seriously off. Here is the new data set and plot, which is more in favor of Harden :

         Team  Harden Lin
      11 53.20% 56.55% 45.72%
      12 57.67% 63.00% 56.87%
       1 55.98% 57.00% 51.84%
       2 59.43% 68.61% 54.53%
       3 56.80% 61.82% 58.83%
       4 55.52% 54.13% 54.93%

      Harden’s and Lin’s True Shooting % (Season 2012-13)
            [ o:Lin, x: Harden ]
        66|              |
        64|              |
        62|  x        x  |
        60|              |
        58|     x     o  |
      % 56x  o           o
        54|        o     x
        52|     o        |
        50|              |
        48|              |
        46o              |
         11 12  1  2  3  4

      For this, the observation as well as the deduction must be re-written. Below I judge my own words with the new and (hopefully) correct findings:

      1. [ Lin is improving over the season ]==> correct;

      2. [ Lin’s shooting out-performances Harden’s by quite an edge in the last two months ]==> wrong; Only a slight margin in the last month;

      3. [ Harden has been maintaining at low TS% for more than a month ]==> half-correct; Only in the last month;

      4. [ In the past two months (3,4), Harden’s TS% is below the team’s ]
      ==> half-correct; Only in the last month;

      [ It could be a sign that Harden’s shooting has become a dragging burden for Rockets’ games ]
      ==> Incorrect. He is now lower than the team’s, but by only a slight margin (55.5>54.1) for one month so too soon to reach this statement.

      Both played terrible game in the playoff1. For Lin (TS=25%), he’s far below his norm (~56%); for Harden (TS=45%), he is far below his worst (54%);

      The following two statements remain true:

      1. Lin is more consistent;
      2. Harden is on a downward slide;

      This remains true : what we really needs to worry is Harden, because he is the leading scorer, so his bad shooting efficiency will cause much more damage to Rox’s game than any one who shoots less.

  5. I just can’t stress enough how disapointed I am with McHail.
    I keep telling my friends that the credits should go to the players.
    Mchail ain’t do nothing but to hold back the team.
    really glad to see your article which help relieve the frustration toward the coach.

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