Rockets Put in a Valiant Team Effort to Take Care of Business and Push a Game 6

This is how I expected Game 4 to go. With Harden back in form, Rockets did what I expected them to do in Game 4. But I did not expect the hobbled Rockets to win Game 5. Things didn’t look good at all before Game 5 started: Harden was under the weather, Lin was still unlikely to play and Asik is still dealing with back issues. I expected guys like Sefolosha to step up and I expected Martin to have a solid game. But OKC played without any energy and no one else but Durant (and later Jackson) could get anything going. Rockets, on the other hand, had pretty much every player going. Parsons had a poor shooting night, after a stellar performance in Game 4 and Smith, again, didn’t do much (but he also didn’t play much). Delfino had to leave the game with an injured foot or something. But Harden was back in form and got his shot back. He nailed his first 7 threes (tying an NBA playoff record held by Robert Horry) and ended up shooting 7 of 9 from three point. He hasn’t had a shooting night this good for like over a month or so. Ended up with a very efficient 31 points (10 of 16 from the field) with 8 rebounds, 3 assists and ONLY 3 turnovers. Asik, due to OKC’s fourth quarter Hack-Asik strategy ended with 21 points on 13 of 18 free throws (that has to be a record for Asik) and 4 of 6 from the field. Garcia was the third leading scorer with 18 points. He helped keep Durant scoreless in the fourth quarter, which is the first time Durant has ever been scoreless in the fourth quarter in the playoffs in his NBA career! In all, every single Rockets player was in double figures, except for Smith and Delfino, who barely played. So it was a great team effort. This is the way the Rockets have to play. Just keep the ball moving, keep bodies moving and be aggressive on the defensive end. I think they played their best defense tonight–at least the best that I can remember.

I thought OKC would get over their overcompensation for losing Westbrook, but it looks like they’re still scrambling. Their over-reliance on Durant is really shooting the confidence of their other players. Kevin Martin went 1 of 10 from the field, which is pretty much unheard of for him. I hope OKC continues to stick with their panicked strategy and keep their focus on Durant. The more Durant gets the ball at the top of the key, the better, in my opinion. But I can’t blame them for their strategy, because his teammates really struggled.

I’m sure Rockets fans were thrilled to see Brooks play some major minutes. He went 4 of 11 from the field, so not very good, but did provide a lot of energy. Beverley also had a pretty solid contribution with 14 points and 8 rebounds, but only had 1 assist in 39 minutes. Brooks had 3 assists in 19 minutes. So, for those who think the Rockets don’t need Lin, I think they’re of the mindset that 1 good thing that Beverly does = 4 good things that Lin does and 1 good thing that Brooks does = 16 good things that Lin does. I think it’s more over-enthusiasm that these guys haven’t dropped the ball in Lin’s absence, but Rockets do need Lin. Right now, they’re playing playground ball and are able to get away with it. Also, without Westbrook, Lin isn’t needed as much for this match up, since Beverly and Brooks can compete with Fisher and Jackson. I’m sure McHale isn’t in too much of a hurry to have Lin back and if they can win without Lin, then that’s great, because they’ll need Lin healthy for the next series.

What’s awesome about the Rockets, and what makes them so fun to watch, is that they play team ball. This is why the last few games of the season were so painful to watch, because they went into Harden Hero Ball mode. This Rockets team has a lot of players who can step up at different times. This is what makes them so dangerous. Rockets played with so much confidence tonight. As long as they continue to play with this much confidence, yet with a lot of hunger and energy and continue to play team ball, they have a great chance of pulling off something that’s never been done before in the NBA. Already, they’ve become only the 14th team in NBA history to force a Game 6 after being down 3-0. According to Ultimate Rockets, there has been 109 series that have started out 3-0. I find that pretty hard to believe that only 14 teams have forced a game 6 down 3-0. And I’m amazed that no team has come back down 3-0 in NBA history. I mean, you figure in all those years, some team must have done it. Rockets have a great shot, now that they’ve got the momentum. They need to stay hungry and not let up. OKC is scrambling and as long as OKC continues to scramble, Rockets have the best chance of doing the impossible. They’re in a great situation now, as long as different players continue to step up. I have a feeling Brooks will get even better in the next game and he’ll have to step up, since I’m pretty sure Lin will still be side-lined. I don’t think McHale trusts Lin enough to put him back in, even if Lin is healthy, because McHale doesn’t want to mess with the lineup right now.

NOTES: The smart play award goes to Harden with the play where he waited until the ball went across half-court to touch it and then launched a quick three so Rockets could get a 2 for 1 possession. That’s some high basketball IQ right there. And Asik gets kudos for not crumbling under pressure and sending a message to Scott Brooks that they need to come up with something better than Hack-Asik.

Rockets are still alive! I didn’t think it would happen, but what a great feeling as a fan. Time to make history!

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12 thoughts on “Rockets Put in a Valiant Team Effort to Take Care of Business and Push a Game 6

  1. Thanks, Philosopher, for your game recap and analysis.
    I missed the first half and went to a sports bar to watch the second half.

    Wow! Asik is the man!
    What do ya know? Scott Brooks panicked and went for Hack-A-whateverhisnameis strategy with more than 6 minutes left in the game! While McHale showed total trust in whateverhisnameis and kept him in the game! Wow! May be I should not have given up on McHale too quickly.

    I already bought tickets for Game 6 right after Game 4 and so got a really good deal.
    The Rockets are gouging Game 6 tickets now. It’s a business after all!
    I don’t think Lin will be ready for Game 6 either.
    History will be made and Lin should be well enough to play round 2!
    I have learned to ignore all negative talks about Lin.
    It is sad, but that seems to be how Linsanity is being played out.
    Rockets fans do not embrace Lin as NYK fans did.

    Have a good night/morning/afternoon/evening everybody, wherever you are on this WEB!

    On a separate note, kudos to the Celts for getting back on serve! History is in the making this 2012-2013 season! Could it be that Linsanity 2.0 will culminate with Celts vs Rockets in the final? 🙂 Old vs Young!

    • You’re welcome, MrPingPong. Rockets opened the game playing aggressively. Beverly scored the first point to send a message that he wasn’t going to be bothered by the crowd. In fact, I think Beverly gets fueled even more–if that’s even possible–from all the hate.

      I’ve been impressed with McHale this series. I give him a ton of credit for the Rocekts’s resiliency. McHale’s strength is his ability to motivate players through conveying his experience and knowledge of what it means to be mentally tough, etc. And I think that’s help these young guys a great deal to believe in themselves. McHale also has out-coached Brooks–especially with his bold use of the small lineup in Game 2, which he has continued with much success. And inexplicably, the Rockets haven’t been hurt on the boards. Very counter-intuitive. McHale has definitely been taking the lead and Brooks seems to be just playing catch up . Hope this continues. McHale is also showing his players a lot of respect in his post game interviews in this series. I think he’s finally realizing what he’s got in these hard-working, humble young guys. These guys are a coach’s dream.

      There’s a great article on Dreamshake that conveys exactly how I feel about OKC now: http://www.thedreamshake.com/2013/5/2/4292626/okc-does-the-impossible-the-end-of-the-affair

      I used to like OKC, but I’ve lost a lot of respect for them and Durant. I thought Durant was a classy player. But not so much, anymore. This is even more motivation to root for the Rockets, as if I needed any. Speaking of utter classlessness, I was ambivalent about the Knicks, but after their wearing black stunt, I’m back to rooting against them. It would be pretty awesome if both Celtics and Rockets pull off the “impossible”. Although, it would be even sweeter if Rockets beat Knicks for the championship. That would be so Linsane. All this being said, I really still don’t care about what happens with the Knicks. All I care about is Rockets winning Game 6. I just hope they don’t get a big head after winning two in a row and get overconfident or complacent, because we know what happens to this team when they’re playing teams that they think they can win. They gotta come out with the underdog mentality. Confident, yet, hungry. McHale’s gotta do his thing and talk to his guys so they can get into the right mindset for Game 6. It’s very hard to maintain focus after the euphoria of winning such a big game.

      • I cannot agree with you more about the importance of the mindset going into game 6, Philosopher: confident, yet, hungry! After such euphoria, there will be undoubtedly a let down of the guard. It’s just normal human behavior, I believe. The brain simply cannot sustain a constant high for any long period of time.

        I think Linsanity is happening to McHale. This is his first NBA playoffs as a coach and something seems to have clicked inside for him. After all, he does own three NBA championship rings as a player. His players seem to have great respect and great love for him. During game 5, TNT showed McHale talking to his troop during a timeout. All McHale said was something like, “Defense, defense, grab the rebounds and just play ball…” Yeah, keep it simple and let it flow baby!

      • Well, McHale took a coaching job because he said that he wants to get back the feeling he had as a player in the playoffs. So I think McHale was basically just biding his time and now he’s where he wants to be, so he’s really enjoying it all and feeding off the competition. Yeah, the guys definitely respect him and are inspired by what he’s accomplished as a player. I like the things that McHale said and the way he said them in the timeouts. He keeps it really simple and emphasizes like one or two things. Scott Brooks on the other hand sounded like he didn’t even believe what he was saying during the timeouts when he was trying to energize his team. It sounded hollow. I’m actually quite proud of McHale during this series. I like him in his post games, too. He is like a different person. i heard him on a radio interview and he said that the playoffs are fun. It’s the season that is a grind. So I think he’s really come alive in the playoffs, because it’s exactly why he took a coaching job, to get back into the playoffs.

        My biggest concern is that the guys might get complacent, after coming off a huge win and stop being hungry. In Game 6, they played with a mission and they were locked in on defense pretty much the entire game. It’s the most focused on defense that I’ve seen them. I’m just concerned that they’re getting overconfident. McHale’s gotta keep them hungry and focused.

      • Yeah, Scott Brooks seemed lost in Game 5. He reminded me of Carlesimo of the Nets comparing his team to the little Dutch boy trying to stop the leak in the dike with his finger when playing against the Rockets.

        The Rockets unleashed is like the raging Northern Sea. When they are clicking on all cylinders, there are just too many good players out there who can do damage. Too many leaks for the Thunder to stop. The Thunder are in trouble now!

        Talk about delusional fan! 🙂

      • Looks like you’ll get to see Lin tonight, coming off the bench, MrPingPong.

      • Thanks for the news, Philosopher!
        OKC will try to go real physical on Lin for sure.
        Let’s see how Lin will play….
        🙂

    • Yeah, enjoy the game MrPingPong. Looks like your delusional fandom has $$ off, since you bought tix to Game 6 in advance and got a great deal. That’s awesome! Hope the Rockets don’t disappoint.

      • Thanks Rubielyn and Philosopher!
        I plan to purchase Rox tickets for round 2 as soon as they are offered.
        Talk about delusional fandom!
        🙂

      • That is being positive Mr.PingPong and I am liking it!! 😉

        Btw, JLin helped the coaching job in Game 5?
        I saw a pic of him standing and pointing out a play during a Rox position and that he was sitting close to the coaching staff and there is aslo a video asking him about it.
        Too bad though, the vid looks liked being cut or not finished ;(

        I believe he can be a good coach someday.
        His basketball IQ and the way he answers to the questions is just right on.

      • Yeah, Rubielyn. I did hear about Lin doing some coaching. I think if he chooses to, he’ll make a great coach. He knows the game inside out and the way he breaks down games in post game interviews is indicative of his high level of understanding of the game.

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