The Day Before Tomorrow: Rockets vs Blazers Round 1 Game 2 Preview

Hello Lin fans/no-fans,

So tomorrow (04/23/2014) is game 2 between your beloved/non-beloved Rockets and the Blazers. Even though we all know the result of game 1, let’s start the preview with a review of game 1.

Q1: Rockets started out sluggish. Harden made his first shot and then missed three 3-ptrs in a row. Lin came in to replace Harden at around the 3 min mark: score Blazers 22 – Rockets 15. Lin started mounting the attack. Things were looking more fluid for the Rockets. The crowd roared when Lin made a much needed trey to keep the Rockets in the game. In the mean time, LMA abused TJ and whoever were guarding him, scoring a total of 12 and grabbing a bunch of rebounds. End of Q1: Blazers 27- Rockets 20. But things were looking better for the Rockets, may be because of Lin! ๐Ÿ™‚

Q2: Lin and Parsons were the keys players mounting the attack with both driving to the baskets and Lin dishing out assists. By around the 3 min mark, when Lin sat down for a breather, the score was Rockets 44 – Blazers 37. In my Lin-centric opinion, the Blazers did not have an answer for Lin. Could it be because they did not prepare for Lin? ๐Ÿ™‚ In the mean time, LMA continued to score and grabbing rebounds at will. End of Q2: Blazers 48- Rockets 49. Interesting factoid: Rockets did not get any free throwย in the first half. Conspiracy theory, anyone? ๐Ÿ™‚

Q3: The Rockets starters came back to life and started scoring and drawing fouls. There were a couple times the Rockets were ahead by 13 pts. Lin came in to replace Bev at around the 5:30 min mark. Lin did not do too much in this quarter. In the mean time, LMA continued to score and grab rebounds. End of Q3: Blazers 73 – Rockets 79. Things were looking good for the Rockets.

Q4: Lin basically played the whole 4th. The Rockets were able to maintain comfortable 8 to 12 pts lead up until around the 4 min mark, when Hack-a-Howard happened! Somehow, Hack-a-Howard worked, partly because LMA and the Dame went berserk and the Blazers were able to tie the game and took it to OT!

OT: In my Lin-centric view, Lin and D12 were the only two Rockets who had anything left in their tanks. Lin scored 7 of the 14 Rockets pts in OT. He was the one with the hot hand, but the ball did not go to him for the last shot to tie or win the game (remember VaLintine day?). It went predictably to Harden who tried to hero ball and failed. What about LMA? He ended up with 46 pts, 18 rbs, 12 asts and 2 blks! Not to mention the Dame’s 31 pts and 5 asts. LMA, we all know what he is capable of. But the Dame, a sophomore with no playoffs experience! This guy is for real, folks!

If you have 15 min to spare, I highly recommend viewing Coach Nick’s analysis of the last five minutes of Q4 and the OT:

So what about tomorrow? The Rockets should play like there is no tomorrow (forgive the pun). It’s not that the Rockets have lost HCA, but they are down by 1 game. Losing tomorrow’s game at home will be an almost insurmountable task to win the series. Let’s look at the problems the Rockets need to solve here.

1. LMA: who can contain him? TJ has not been able to defend LMA in any of the games so far. What will McHale do? Double-teaming? DMO? Twin Towers? I have no idea. Oh, actually D12 said that he would guard LMA. If that’s the case, then who will guard Lopez? We’ll see how that goes.

2. The Dame: it should be self-evident by now that Bev could not contain the Dame. Why not put Lin on the Dame? Of course, this is not going to happen, because Lin is such a “bad” defender and is to come off the bench where he belongs. I am guessing Canaan will be called upon instead! ๐Ÿ™‚

3. Hack-a-Howard: I have an idea. Let them HaH. Leave Howard in there to shoot two and run back to protect the rim. Let’s look at the numbers. According Basketball-reference.com, the Rockets offensive efficiency is 108 pts per 100 possessions, that is 1.08 pt per possession. On the other hand, D12’s FT% this season is 54.7%. This means every time D12 goes to the FT line to shoot two, the expected outcome is 2 * 54.7% = 1.094 pts! 1.09 is better than 1.08, don’t you think?

Some Rockets bad news:

Bev: we all know he is hurt. His knees are not 100%. He can’t play at full speed and can’t play heavy minutes.

Lin: he did not practice today due to flu like symptoms according to Jason Friedman: https://twitter.com/JasonCFriedman/status/458674912128159744
Lin will play unless he is completely disable by the flu virus. We all know that. But how effective will he be having to fight the flu bug at the same time?

But there is one bit of good news! Harden admitted to “ball-hawking” and promised to do better! Check this out:


So Harden will stop ball-hawking and play defense, and perhaps will stop ball-hogging as well and look to pass the ball back to Lin more often! Let Lin be the floor general this time! (I can dream, can’t I?) ๐Ÿ™‚

Finally, this is certainly very good news for TJ: the criminal charge against him in Portland was dropped today. May be TJ can step on LMA now! http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/04/nbas_terrence_jones_has_crimin.html

So all in all, my take on tomorrow’s game is the Blazers will not fix what ain’t broken and will not make any change in their game plan. The Rockets will need to make major adjustments to deal with LMA and the Dame. What will coach McHale come up with? Your guess is just as good as mine! ๐Ÿ™‚

Reporting from the ground (up), this is your humble MrPingPong.

  • MrPingPong

    Latest update: According to Jason Friedman, Lin is “good to go” for game 2.

    https://twitter.com/JasonCFriedman/status/458993788992507905

    Let Lin be the floor general and Rockets will win! Yes, I am rather simple minded. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • ashley

      Mr. PIngpong, I like your positiveness, which is always so uplifting! But I’m afraid the Rockets are going to let everyone down. The loss of game 2 enhances my fear that they might be completely swept by the Blazers, which would be quite a humiliation to a team with two “superstars” H & H. We’ll see.

      • MrPingPong

        I was at the game last night, Ashley. I screamed and yelled and cursed and left frustrated and disappointed, etc.. Lin was not 100%. But I am still optimistic about Lin. Though he is handcuffed by McHale’s system (as if McHale has any system at all), Lin will find a way!

        I will write a late recap and post my videos soon! Stay tuned! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Johnny B

    I hope the Rockets get swept in the first round

    That way McHale will get fired or at least be on the hot seat going into next season. His coaching flaws are now visible on a national scale which is encouraging.

    • MrPingPong

      Lin hates to lose and I want to see Lin win. For that reason, I want the Rockets to win. Lin cannot do it alone though. Other players, especially the super stars of the team have to step up and earn their paychecks. And the coach, oh well, I don’t really care about him.

      Letz GOOOO, JL7! Win game 3!

      • Forthelin

        Very disappointing game. Now I see why Okc let Harden go. He plays like Melo and can never hit the clutch shots. Lin could not get too much going, but he had a couple of nice assists, especially to Howard. I don’t see the Rox getting out of this one. I think Mchale is done. He doesnt have the wherewithal to get past the first round. Stouts clearly outcoached him every which way.

        • MrPingPong

          Yes, very disappointing game indeed! Lin had at least three “missed” assists. His shooting was off though. And of course, LOHs are blaming the loss on Lin. It’s pathetic.

          Harden fans and McHale fans are in a world of hurt right now. During the regular season, whenever Harden played badly, Lin showed up and saved McHale’s “arse”. Not this time around though, not during the playoffs when the opposing team is one of the best in the West. Our Philosopher here called for McHale’s head quite a while ago. As they say here in America, the chickens are coming home to roost.

          Still I believe Lin is capable of going Linsane and bring life back to the Rockets. After all, I am a LOF. Just give Lin the freaking ball and let him run the floor! We all know what Lin can do. It’s just McHale is so blind to it. Sad story of a coach.

          I will write a short recap of game 2 with my own video in case anyone here missed the game and wants to see it. Yes, it was so frustrating to watch it live.

          Today is the day! Letzzz GOOOO, JL7!

          • ashley

            Here’s a simple thought: Regardless of the flaws of Harden or the coaching, or Lin not being well utilized, the biggest factor that caused the Rockets’ defeat is Aldridge’s hot shooting, so if the Rockets can contain Aldridge, they should be able to pull out a win, like they used to?

            On the other hand, I assume a basic simple hope of the Rockets’ coaches would be for Harden to regain his hot hand. As for Lin, they probably won’t expect much or try to involve him much more, since he’s just a bench player, a second thought, or the last resort to them, thinks a pessimist.

            Fans will always remember the miracles of Linsanity and how Lin saved a number of games with his Linsanity-like performance during the regular season. Hence, it’s natural we’d hope for miracles–from Lin. But under the circumstances, I feel such hope might be bordering on demanding or delusional.

          • MrPingPong

            Yes Ashley, LMA’s hot shooting was killing the Rockets for sure. But strangely enough, I felt the game was within reach with about 30 sec left in the 4th. OK, OK, I am a delusional LOF. I will elaborate on these last 30 sec on my game recap post later.

            What surprised me was how bad Harden played in these 2 playoffs games. Looking back at the regular season, Harden might have a bad game one night but then he came back like gangbuster in the following game. Not this time though. I am not talking about long bombs. Harden missed really short jumper and point blank layups. What’s going on? I dunno. All the Rockets need is for Harden to step up and play. Lin, ironically, is the most constant factor in my Lin-centric opinion. Lin will show up, step up and deliver in these playoffs games. This is the constant factor. The question is what about the rest of the team?

            As to the coach, his constant factor has always been a big fat ZERO. So I expect ZERO from him.

            Letzzz GOOOO, JL7!

  • Thanks for this game summary Mr. P^2! For game 2, I had a very long day with my 1+1/2 year old son (named “Jeremy”…not kidding), so I was only able to catch the first half. At first, I had a crazy thought when McHale brought Lin in at the 4 minute mark in the first quarter and left him in to start the second quarter. I was like, “maybe.. just maybe McHale is going to play him more than 29 mins tonight”.. well.. reality hit me right after Jeremy gave DHO his second alleyoop and then immediately benched. HOU was up 6 and rolling at that point. And then the lead quickly vanished. The offense was stagnant and the defense was porous. McHale then brought Lin in at the end of 2nd quarter with like 30 seconds left (aka GARBAGE TIME). Yes folks, this is how McHale gives us the illusion that Lin averages 29 minutes. In fact, he really plays probably closer to 25-26 “quality” minutes. I looked up the play by play to keep me honest here.. and my memory proved that it still works (even after having a baby).. check it out.. http://idx.mlsstratus.com/idx/brs/Details.asp?ml_num=2658017&fp=9e8b05375b5bab32b040b1a2f3d35671&key=61508eb318e504bc2b5e275c944cd048&print=true&section=report

    So.. after the 1st half, i decided to sit this one out and get some sleep and not be a zombie at work the next day. after waking up and seeing that Lin played on;y 25 minutes, I was not surprised. Also saw that he played “bad” shooting 1 for 5. But I was pretty sure it was because he didn’t get to play point like usual.. The ESPN play by play showed me something worse.. he was subbing in for Terrence Jones and Chandler Parsons for the rest of that evening. So was he actually playing SF?? McHale does know he’s only 6ft 3 right? was he in there to just use up his fouls to stop LaMarcus Aldridge? Somebody help me out here.. in any case.. I think this season is over.. It’s gonna be at best a 4-1 series if Harden manages to have one of his “insane” games where he takes 20 free throws. DHO was in BEAST mode though so I was glad I caught that part, but even he didn’t get the ball much afterwards.

    I just don’t get why they don’t use DHO better.. he did well with his ISO back to basket post-up moves this game early on, but we cannot absolutely rely on that! DHO, when he’s not moving fast, gets pick pocketed or travels/fouls in those situations.. he’s no Olajuwon.. he’s better off setting high screens and using his speed to get to the basket.. and the best guy to do that? Yea.. the guy on the bench.. Lin.. haha.. I agree with Mr. P^2.. get DMO out there on Aldridge! and let him and DHO run high screens for both Harden and Lin.. use harden as a real SG.. not SF or PG.. space the floor with TJones (the guy can make his perimeter shots).. and DMO/Parsons.. USE THE PERIMETER SHOT.. basketball has more than just paint and three point shots.. LeBron realized that during last championship.. MIAMI would have lost last year if LeBron didn’t realize he could shoot inside the three point line.. Popoviche’s game plan was to just guard him in the paint and let him shoot outside.. it was a “dare” tactic for a predictable offense that Miami was running..

    anyhow.. what do y’all think about Jeremy’s future the next 2 years? Optimistic? Pessimistic? I think I might write something about that.. lemme know if you guys have any good sources for a piece about that..

    • MrPingPong

      Hi Jeff! Good to hear from you!

      You did the right thing choosing sleep over the second half of game 2. Hey, the link you gave above is some kind of real estate listing, which has nothing to do with basketball! ๐Ÿ™‚ So you have a very young child. All of my children are in Lin’s age group. They truly were a bundle of joy when they were little though! ๐Ÿ™‚

      I agree with you that the Rockets’ season is over. I am little more optimistic than you in that I think the series will go 4-2 Blazers. Rockets will steal one in Portland and win one at home. It’s all speculation based on Linsanity though. Lin just simply cannot do it alone. It’s the NBA playoffs and not March Madness. Anyway, may be out of desperation, McHale will go Linsane, start Lin and let him run the floor! ๐Ÿ™‚ I can dream, can’t I? ๐Ÿ™‚

      As to Lin’s future the next 2 years, I think Lin will serve out his contract next season, because no NBA GM is desperate enough to eat Morey’s poison pill contract. Then after that, he will go FA and pick a team he likes. However, I think wherever Lin plays, he will have to prove himself over and over again. Lin does not fit the mold. People seem to make concerted effort to “prove” that Lin does not belong in the NBA. In spite of all unfair treatments, there is not a single trace of hate in Lin’s heart. And this is what I am most impressed about Lin. I have no inside info on what’s going behind the scene in the NBA. So this is just all speculation.

      Have a great afternoon/evening/night/morning wherever you all are on this WEB!

      • Thanks MrPingPong for the write up! I was dead wrong about Game 2. I thought it was going to be an easy win, simply because this is how these series usualy go. It’s rare for a team to steal the first two games away against an evenly matched opponent. Usually, the home team wakes up makes adjustments and comes out firing on all cylinders to take care of business. I guess I’ve been away from the Rockets for too long and forgot the depths of McHale’s ineptness as a coach.

        I have so much to say about game 2. buy didn’t have time to write and now the moment has passed. The siver lining is that McHale’s poor coaching got exposed on national TV.

        One thing I want to point out that that hasn’t been pointed out by others is that Lin had “the look” in the fourth, but McHale yanked him out after Lin drove and got blocked late in the fourh, because McHale sensed Lin wasn’t automatically just going to dump the ball to H&H.

        Lin’s role has been diminished even more than when I stopped watching the Rockets. Didn’t know that was possible. Lin did make a couple of really bone headed mistakes in crunch time, which was so uncharacteristic. But McHales overall ugly coaching lost this game. My love affair with the Rockets lasted for one day. I’m back to not caring about the Rockets. I just want Lin o be traded.

        I actually like the Blazers as a team more than the Rockets. They seem like a much better group of guys who play unselfishly. Actually wouldn’t mind a sweep–especially if it means the possibility of McHale getting what he deserves. McHale has no business coaching any team in any league, professional or otherwise.

        • MrPingPong

          Did you watch game 3 tonight, Philosopher? ๐Ÿ™‚
          Lin is Mr. 4th quarter and now Mr. OT!
          ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Jeff

    My bad! I was citing espn’s play by play page for game 2. http://espn.go.com/nba/playbyplay?gameId=400553099&period=0

  • Jeff

    Even bill Simmons agrees with my long two pointer (perimeter shots) assessment!

    http://grantland.com/features/nba-playoffs-2014-33-burning-questions-from-round-1/

    “…even if long 2s are the Dorkapalooza (dmorey) communityโ€™s least favorite shot, everything slows down in the playoffs, defenses ratchet it up, and suddenly there arenโ€™t as many open 3s and layups anymore. But you know whatโ€™s available? LONG TWOS! “

    • You know who’s great at long twos? LaMarcus Aldridge.