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! 🙂
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? 🙂 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 throw in the first half. Conspiracy theory, anyone? 🙂
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! 🙂
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:
Harden about the lack of ball movement down the stretch: "That goes to myself. I have to not be so ball hawking. I have to do a better job."
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) April 21, 2014
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?) 🙂
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! 🙂
Reporting from the ground (up), this is your humble MrPingPong.