McHale still doesn’t have the right rotation and I don’t think he ever will figure out the right rotation. If you look at the box score to last night’s game as well as probably every single game this season, it’s clear how unbalanced McHale’s rotation is versus that of other coaches. McHale just has trust in only a few players, so he’ll play them to death and he doesn’t get the concept that players get tired and that players perform much better when they’ve had some rest. It seems like McHale panics anytime one of his trusted guys isn’t on the floor and whenever the Rockets give up a few points when his trusted guys aren’t in, he panics and replaces the lineup with his trusted guys. So his trusted guys don’t get the necessary rest that they need to finish games and this is another reason, among many, why the Rockets are so terrible when the game is on the line late in games. They’ve got to be one of the worst, and this is ALL McHale’s fault. Another big factor is his lack of any real in-bound plays. They’re just awful. Every other coach is able to draw up last second plays to free up players to give them open shots for a chance to win games, but between McHale and Harden’s Hero Balling the Rockets always end up with highly contested, very low percentage shots. It was no different last night in the Mavs game and I wasn’t the least bit surprised.
A lot of things don’t make sense with the way McHale coaches, but one thing that is really baffling is that I don’t know why he finds it necessary to always pair Jeremy Lin with either Harden or Beverley–as if Lin needs help handling the ball–when it’s clear that Jeremy Lin can run the show himself. I’d like to see a lineup of Lin without either Harden or Beverley: Lin, Garcia, Casspi, DMo, Asik. I have yet to see that lineup on the floor. I’m not saying that’s the best lineup for Lin–it isn’t at all–but I’d still like to see it. McHale does all sorts of experiments with the lineups, but has yet to try that lineup, because he, for some insane reason thinks Lin needs to play with either Harden or Beverley. Again, I think the Rockets can have a 10-Man rotation, but McHale keeps yanking players in and out of lineups, messing the rhythm and chemistry of the team. For example, in one game DMo would be a big factor then in another game he wouldn’t see any time on the court. I get that DMo still has things he needs to work on, but I think yanking players in and out of lineups messes with their rhythm.
Last night against the Mavs, Lin looked lost. I think a lot of it had to do with the chemistry with whatever lineup Lin was playing with . The spacing wasn’t good and guys didn’t move much. I think many of the players were lost about where they needed to be. I think having Asik in the lineup shook up the chemistry, since Asik hasn’t played with that lineup much this season. The driving lanes were congested and I also think that the defense is able to focus a lot of their attention on Lin, so that made it a little tough for Lin. I didn’t see too many options for Lin in last night’s game and I think that was a big reason why he had an off night.
That being said, Lin did look the most tentative he’s been all season. This is just pure speculation on my part, based on nothing, but Lin hasn’t been the same shooter ever since he hit 9 threes and I think it’s because he’s thinking way too much out there when he’s shooting those threes. He’s thinking about how much he’s improved his shooting and all the positive things that people have been saying about him has seeped into his mind and distracting him from just playing loose and free and playing hard. Now, Lin did have a good game against the Knicks, but part of that is because Lin always gets fired up for MSG. Also, I didn’t see that game, but I don’t think he shot particularly well from three in that game, either. I think it’ll just take a little time for Lin to get over the fact that he shot 9 threes in a game and start getting back to his rhythm again. I think he’ll start shooting well again very soon. If not in the next game than in the next couple of games. All he needs is a couple more days to just launch those threes at practice and get back in rhythm. The mechanics are there, so he just needs to get back in rhythm and stop the mindless, subconscious chatter that’s been going on in his head.
Even though Lin had an off-night, I still think Rockets could have used Lin in the fourth when they couldn’t find their offense. McHale, once again, took Lin out when he made a mistake. Again, sending the wrong message. Lin has shown that he can bounce back late in games to be a big contributor. He just wasn’t given a chance last night by McHale. Again, this is the lack of respect I keep referring to. Even though Lin couldn’t get much going on the night, I think what McHale failed to see last night was that Lin didn’t get a chance to play with the first unit and that could have been a big contributor to Lin’s struggles. The obstacle that McHale has put in front of Lin is that Lin doesn’t really have a consistent lineup that he plays with, so he can’t really develop a deep level of chemistry with a lot of the lineups that Lin plays with during games. I think a lot of people miss this. I’m not sure what lineup Lin plays with during practices, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the lineup that he plays with during games. This is why Lin still doesn’t really have chemistry with Howard, because he doesn’t practice with Howard. I think a lot of fans miss this, because I’d see message board comments all the time deriding Lin when Lin commits a turnover trying to feed Howard the ball. Still, Lin does as good of a job as can be expected for a point guard who doesn’t get to practice with the primary big man on the team. “Rockets fans” and McHale seem to believe that it’s a forgone conclusion Lin should be coming off the bench, but I think I provided the ideal solution, which McHale doesn’t care enough to even test out. This is ludicrous, because Lin is one of the best PnR point guards in the NBA and Howard is perhaps the best PnR Big in the NBA, so it just doesn’t make any sense to not even try and make it work for Lin to play with Howard in the starting lineup. But, I think partly because of the McFale/Lin dynamics, McHale just couldn’t wait to find any excuse to take Lin out of the starting lineup.
Even with what Lin has shown so far this season, Lin is still not given enough respect from McHale. Still gets benched, although, it’s much better this season so far. I think Lin could have helped the team in the fourth quarter if McHale put Lin in with the starting lineup, like he has every single game this season. I think with Howard and Harden drawing a lot of attention, Lin could have made a difference in the fourth quarter if he had been in. The thing that was different about last night’s game versus all the other games so far this season for Lin is that he really didn’t get to play with the starting unit much at all–especially with Howard. So couldn’t benefit from the attention that Howard draws.
I think it sends the wrong message when you don’t trust one of your key players and that’s where the lack of respect comes in. You don’t treat a player who’s been probably the most consistent player on the team by suddenly not trusting him when the game is on the line. McHale doesn’t do this with any of his “trusted guys”. And Lin has been one of the best Rockets this season, so should be on that list of trusted guys. Yet, because of the McFale/Lin dynamics, McHale is incapable of trusting Lin and giving Lin the respect that Lin has earned. I don’t think McHale will ever change. Not with Lin. Not with the way he “coaches”. So, Lin would benefit from being traded. However, that does depend where he’s traded to. So far, Lin has been doing well and proving a lot of doubters wrong. But this has EVERYTHING to do with Lin and very little to do with how he’s being played. I think it’s ridiculous for uninformed fans and commentators to point to his new role as a 6th man, being the catalyst for his improvement. This is wrong on so many levels. For one, I think being 6th man hurts the chemistry Lin has with the team, since he really doesn’t practice with the guys he plays with, so all the benefits of being able to be the primary ball handler is balanced out by this drawback. But the other big reason is that Lin ends up playing with Harden most of the time, anyway, so, again really doesn’t get primary ball handling duty roles as a 6th man. I think Lin would be doing just as well playing in the starting lineup. Again, McHale doesn’t dare to try this out, because he likes Lin not being in the starting lineup and so he doesn’t want to rock that boat and risk others seeing that there’s really no good strategy for using Lin as a 6th man the way McHale has been using Lin. I think there are benefits to using Lin as a 6th man, but it’s not the way McHale has been doing it. Once again, McHale gets it wrong. He has no business being Jeremy Lin’s coach or the coach of a contending team. This madness needs to stop, unfortunately, Les and Morey feel they owe McHale. I’m very confident, however, that both Les and Morey know what a terrible coach McHale is. I mean, how can anyone not know?