Not much to report from tonight’s game. Pretty standard stuff. When you trust Lin to be the leader and the floor general, you win games. It’s pretty much a no-brainer, but McHale still hasn’t figured it out. McHale keeps forcing Lin to be something he’s not, which is some sort of role player who just stands in the corner. But the irony is, if McHale would just go against his coaching instincts and let Lin FINALLY be what Lin is meant to be, McHale may be able to keep his job. McHale is really getting in his own way and, as a result, he’s making life very hard for the Rockets players, Rockets fans (who actually care about winning) and Jeremy Lin fans.
Rockets FINALLY moved the ball tonight. And they FINALLY played some Pick-and-Roll. And a major reason for this is that Lin was allowed to be the floor general the majority of the time he was on the floor. And Lin delivered. Rockets had the most assists, as a team, than they’ve had all series. And, tonight, I cheered for the Rockets, because they FINALLY played Jeremy Lin the right way. In Game three, they played Jeremy Lin the right way only late in the fourth quarter and in overtime, but in this game, Jeremy Lin was allowed to be the floor general throughout the game. It’s so blindingly obvious: when Jeremy Lin has success, the team has success, because Jeremy Lin is all about team basketball. So when Lin does well, he makes all the other guys on his team better. The scoring was very balanced tonight: Howard with 22, Lin with 21 and Parsons with 20. We had five players in double figures in scoring. Lin only ended up with four assists, which seems very low for what I saw him do tonight. But Lin’s been robbed of assists in the past by statisticians, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened again tonight. But he did a lot of things that made it easier for his teammates to be successful tonight, such as dribble penetration to break down the defense.
I keep saying this over and over, but the Rockets are a much better team with the ball in Lin’s hands, not Harden’s. With the ball in Harden’s hands, Rockets become a two-man team of Harden and Howard. With the ball in Lin’s hands, Rockets become a full five-man team. You can’t win–especially in the playoffs–with a one-man show. McHale tried to do this in Games 1 and 2 and failed. It’s no coincidence that Games 1 and 2 were the two games in which Lin was undermined the most. If you recall from my previous post, I mentioned that I hadn’t seen a Rockets game for months and the big thing I noticed is that Lin has been diminished even more. Lin just hid in the corner and barely touched the ball in those two games. And there was absolutely no ball movement in those two games. McHale decided to go all-in on Harden in Game 1 and when that didn’t work, he decided to go all-in on Howard in Game 2.
Game 5 is a dramatic contrast to Games 1 and 2 in so many positive ways and the biggest reason for this is that Lin was allowed to be THE Floor General and his teammates seem to trust him to lead, while Harden took a back seat. Rockets fans will probably call me “delusional” for thinking this, but I’m telling you, the Rockets are a lethal team when Lin is trusted to be the leader, not Harden. If the Rockets organization is sincere about winning and doesn’t care about playing favorites and superstar fucking, then they should let Lin lead and be the floor general. When Harden leads, it’s all about Harden. All about Harden being the hero. But when Lin leads, Rockets end up playing team basketball. Rockets players become unselfish, because Lin’s unselfishness is contagious. I keep saying this over and over, but one of the key things that made Linsanity so enjoyable is that the Knicks were playing team basketball at the highest level. It’s such a shame and is such a disservice to Rockets fans, Lin fans and fans of basketball that McHale is blinded to this.
The Blazers commentators kept saying how Lin is doing much better in this game than in all the other games in the series. What these commentators are unaware of is that this has nothing to do with Lin. It’s all about how Lin is being played. In this game, Lin actually was allowed to play his game and that’s why he’s doing well. In all the other games, Lin hasn’t been allowed to play his game (with the exception of late in the fourth and overtime in Game 3, since McHale had no choice but to keep Lin out there, since Parsons fouled out) in any of the other games in this series. In this game, McHale let Lin do his thing, because apparently Beverley is recovering from a flu.So, both times, when McHale is FORCED to go against his natural coaching instincts good things happen for the Rockets. This is why McHale must be fired, because his natural coaching instincts are damaging to ANY basketball team.
Rockets won tonight’s game without too much drama, unlike all the other games in the series. The score: 108 to 98. Rockets took care of business and was in control of the game throughout. This is what happens when you let Lin be Lin! How can McHale/Rockets be so blinded to something so blindingly obvious? I doubt McHale will learn anything from this game (or maybe he’ll learn for one game, but go back to doing the wrong thing later). But if Rockets continue to play Lin the way they played him tonight, I will root for them (not that Rockets organization really cares if I root for them or not). If not, they’ve got a long flight back from Portland.