Rockets Will Take Care of Business Tonight to Avoid a First Round Sweep

I was only able to catch the tail end of the fourth quarter of Game 3. Man, what a heart breaker. But I guess it would have been a bad loss for either team, because if Rockets won, then Thunder blew a 26 point lead. But, once again, the game was within reach for the Rockets, but couldn’t come up with the win. Game 3 was especially heart breaking, because Thunder won it down the stretch with luck. They got a lucky bounce on the Durant three and they benefited from multiple unforced turnovers by Rockets down the stretch. So I didn’t feel like Thunder won the game like they did in Game 2. When Garcia hit that three to put the Rockets up, I thought Rockets would come up with the win–especially when Durant’s three bounced like 5 feet in the air. I have no idea how that ball dropped in. That was just so deflating.

I was glad to see Garcia out there in Game 3, even though it was probably due to Lin being out. Like I’ve been saying this in this blog over and over again, Garcia offers the same spacing that Delfino provides, but Garcia is a more reliable player and all around better player than Delfino. I think if McHale had played Garcia instead of Delfino, Rockets would have won Game 2. I liked Delfino before he messed up his elbow, but ever since he got injured, he hasn’t been the same player and is pretty much taking up valuable minutes out there on the court. Garcia is not only more consistent with his shot, he’s more selective with his shot and is a better defender. This is total hindsight, but Delfino should have passed the ball to a wide open Parsons for a potential game-tying three in the last possession, instead of forcing up a highly contested three that had little chance of going in. But I can’t blame Delfino for that. I think the play was probably drawn up for him and the clock was winding down. So he did what he could. That being said, remember that Lakers game (the last game of the season) when Lin had the composure to pass it to a wide open Parsons with the shot clock winding down and Parsons tied the game up to put it into overtime? That’s what I wanted Delfino to do. But the game shouldn’t have even come down to that. Rockets basically handed the game to the thunder by essentially giving them the ball time and time again down the stretch. That was pretty ridiculous (especially the Harden no look intended for Garcia), even though Rockets ended up with low turnover numbers for the game.

Of course, there’s a lot of talk about whether or not Lin should have played. From his performance it looks as if the chest injury is still bothering him significantly and he probably shouldn’t have played. But that’s a tough call. It’s pretty much a lose-lose situation for Lin. Don’t play and people say you’re weak, play and struggle and people blame your for losing the game. I was surprised to see that Lin ended up playing 18+ minutes in Game 3. I figured that he and McHale would be able to gauge his condition after like 5 minutes out on the court or something. I think Lin should have just shut it all out and made the decision to bench himself once he figured he wasn’t going to help the team out on the floor. It also would have prevented him from getting it aggravated by Durant before halftime. Because it didn’t work out very well with Lin playing in Game 3, I don’t expect him to play in Game 4.

Anyway, I think the Rockets have the ability to beat the Thunder–especially if they have a healthy Lin. This series should be 2-1. Tonight, I’m guaranteeing a win for the Rockets and I don’t think it’s going go down to the wire. I think Rockets will take care of business and win without too much drama. It won’t be a cake walk, but I don’t see it being a tight game with constant lead changes going down to the wire, either. I’m expecting Rockets to be leading the majority of the game and end up winning by 7+ points.

I know Lin is a game time decision and most likely won’t play, but I’m still guaranteeing a Rockets win, simply because Rockets will be very focused tonight, because they know they’re better than the way they have been playing. They are going to play hard and get their frustrations out on the court.

Beyond tonight’s game, Rockets’s success will depend on Lin’s health. I think if Lin is healthy and can play in Game 5 the way Lin is supposed to play, then I think Rockets can push this series to 7 games and may even do the impossible and win this series. But without Lin, I think OKC will win this in 5 games. So that’s basically my outlook for the Rockets. It would be quite a story if Lin could come back in Game 5 and pull off some Linsanity and help the Rockets advance to the second round. That would redeem Lin’s first playoff appearance, which has been a very frustrating one for Lin so far. (He looks totally deflated in the interviews.) But as long as Lin stays with the Rockets, there will be many playoff appearances to come.

 

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  • MrPingPong

    Bold prediction, Philosopher!
    I know you’ve been screaming for Garcia since day one!
    Now you have your wish: Garcia will start in place of Lin.
    I hope Lin heals fast in order to play game 6! Yes, since you already called game 4, I am calling game 5 here!
    🙂
    Let’s go Red Nation!

  • MrPingPong

    Just making conversation here…
    I found the following comment by a regular poster at TheDreamShake.com quite interesting.

    http://www.thedreamshake.com/2013/4/29/4279164/houston-rockets-vs-oklahoma-city-thunder-game-4-game-preview

    “I could not disagree more……

    I’ve watched Lin with both the Knicks and the Rockets, and the only thing I’ve seen Lin develop under Kevin McHale is bad habits……….

    – Lin has forced a lot more passes this season. (Primarily because the team doesn’t set screens to get anyone open.) Lin’s turnovers last season were mostly from sloppy or reckless ball handling. His handles have improved somewhat, but it seems like Lin doesn’t see the floor nearly as well as he once did.

    – Lin has played to avoid turnovers…. When he was with the Knicks, the coaches had no problem with the turnovers, as long as he plays fearless…. This is maybe the biggest letdown with Lin this season.

    – Moneyball has made Lin jack up three balls, even though he was never overly comfortable shooting them. Lin shot and made threes last season, but he never shot them as a primary option.

    – Aside from the middle third of this season, Lin’s defense has regressed, relative to his play with the Knicks……. Lin at one time watched the post-up man’s eyes knowing when to double-team. He now seems to double team randomly, instead of instinctively.

    – Lin defensively handled screens better last season. Although I think part of it was Tyson Chandler’s communication on defense. (On the flip side, Omer Asik defends the pick and roll as well as anyone. Often saving Lin when he gets screened.)

    – Moneyball has made Lin force layups instead of shooting short jumpers and floaters. The percentage of shots Lin has had blocked has at least tripled this season.

    – Lin used to move instinctively based on how the defense and teammates respond to the initial play. Lin now stops and thinks too much.

    – In New York, Lin was setting screens off the ball. (Especially on Carmelo post-up plays, often freeing a shooter to dish off to.) He stopped doing that with the Rox.

    – In New York, Lin was never benched because his backup happened to be playing better. Lin usually responded with big 4th quarters. He was second in late game PER to this obscure chap named Chris Paul.

    – Lin’s clutch play was more effective last season than even Harden’s this season. If the game was close, Lin often won it. (But then again, Mike Woodson is a much better half-court coach.)

    – One of Lin’s most-effective shots was the 10-foot bank shot off the wing. Lin has all but abandoned it.

    – Lack of screens off the ball has transformed Jeremy Lin from one of the best passers to baseline cutters to one of the worst.

    I will make one other huge comment……… If someone were to do a “Top 25 Jeremy Lin Plays” video for these last two seasons, at least 20 of these plays would have been from last season with the Knicks. I remember so many brilliant plays Lin had with the Knicks. (My favorite was a Michael-Jordan style cross hands layup. The second was the left to right behind the back to escape a double team for a layup in Philly. And the “Lin for the Win” in Toronto.) Aside from a few full-court passes, I don’t find anything Lin did this season particularly memorable. The only play I can think of is when Lin pulled a Pat Bevs play in his 38 point game against the Spurs, denying Tim Duncan a putback. And also the block on Josh Smith. But that’s all folks.

    by tkrieger on Apr 29, 2013 | 3:02 PM up reply

    • standupphilosopher

      Thanks, MrPingPong. I actually am not familiar with this guy’s posts on Dreamshake, but he definitely makes some good points. Most of which I do agree with. Too lazy at the moment to break it all down, because for me to break his comments down the way I want to, it might be a longer post than my laziness will allow me to do at the moment.

      • MrPingPong

        Nothing wrong with being lazy at this moment in time, Philosopher! I am a lazy reader to tell you the truth. But I do read everything you write, Philosopher. Perhaps, teko and BC and others can share their views (with numbers to back them up). 🙂

        Switching back to game 5 tonight, I am hoping that the Rox fans will show up in full force to support the team. Last Saturday, Houston was hammered with torrential rain, flooding and hail in various areas. As a result, not every fan could make it.

        Anyway Philosopher, I hope you won’t feel too lazy to watch the game tonight and write your post game analysis. I will videotape the whole game and post on Youtube as usual. (My smart phone is an older model and does not have the zoom capability; sorry about that!)

  • asdf

    great encouraging post!
    i agree completely with your comments on garcia’s production (compared to delfino) ever since he came to the rockets. garcia is simply a better all around player. and he’s better from three even though delfino is somewhat of a three-point role player.