I’m sure everyone who’s reading this right now knows about the stunning end to the Rockets’s Season, so I don’t think I need to go into it too much. It’s very fitting to me that the Rockets season came to a stunning end with McHale’s irrational benching of Lin. Very very fitting. McHale deserves this and then some.
Lin was playing excellent defense on Lillard the entire second half and kept Lillard scoreless in the fourth. In fact, the ONLY time Lillard scored in the fourth quarter was on that buzzer-beater game winner when Lin was on the bench (Lin’s good at D, but I don’t think he can do much sitting on the bench).
One of McHale’s favorite ways of undermining Lin is to yank Lin in and out during crunch time to drive home the point to all the fans, analysts, etc. that Lin can’t play defense. I’ve criticized him in the past for this irrational strategy, since Lin is a highly underrated defender, who gets an undeserved reputation as an average or below average defender. Well, what makes McHale’s insane strategy even more stunningly idiotic in tonight’s game is that McHale yanked Lin out (to make his McFale point) even though Lin kept Lillard scoreless the entire fourth quarter (which no one has done in this series). McHale really does not know what’s going on with his players and he doesn’t have a sense of the rhythm of the game and which player is on at what time, etc. He only just knows his players on a surface level and just sees their reputation and whatever inane image he’s already carved out for them in his dull, fixed, unevolved mind. This is yet another in a long list of McHale’s faults as a coach, which can be found in many previous posts of mine, as well as this video. McHale’s ineptitude is boundless. Again, I have no idea how this man is allowed to coach ANY team, let alone an NBA team. I wouldn’t even let him coach a junior high JV basketball team, because he would blame any loss on the poor kids. In his eyes, he can do no wrong (and this is why he’ll NEVER learn and evolve as a coach).
If I was playing for McHale, I’d be stunned at what McHale thinks passes for coaching. In his press conference, McHale deferred blame (once again) by saying that he told his guys no threes and to stick with their man, as if any of the fans in the stands couldn’t tell the players that. I think it’s wise for his players to tune him out (like Harden does), because the more you listen to McHale the dumber you get as a basketball player. I doubt McHale went through any potential scenarios that his players may be confronted with. It’s probably better that the players take advantage of timeouts to talk amongst themselves, rather than listen to McHale. Because apparently, they were still workout out what to do on the court just before the ball was inbounded. The reason I doubt McHale goes through any potential scenarios is that the Rockets have gotten burned by very similar plays in the past, such as a game vs. the Lakers this season, where they are just chasing a wide open player on the opposing team. Another reason I doubt McHale says much to his team aside from the obvious surface level things is because McHale is incapable of putting together any last second offensive plays himself, so he is incapable of anticipating what the offense would do in that situation. McHale is incapable of understanding how screens work, because he’s never been able to put together a screen to free his key player/players in end of game situations, so as usual, McHale’s kindergarten coaching of “stay with your man” turned out to be precisely the wrong thing to do, as Harden lazily (just like he just stood there when Lin got the ball knocked out from behind him by Mo Williams in game 4) stayed with his man, while Parsons was desperately chasing Lillard.
If the Rockets organization continues to stick with McHale after he has shown himself completely inept as a coach for two seasons, then they don’t know how to run their business. The Rockets are toxic because of McHale, as well as James Harden’s ego. They need to bring in a coach who will hold James Harden accountable. All McHale does is worship Harden no matter what. To me McHale and Harden are the ONLY two people responsible for the Rockets’s disappointing early exit from the playoffs. James Harden played a good offensive game tonight, but that doesn’t make up for his lazy defense the entire series, as well as his ball-stopping ways, inefficiencies, and his need to be the hero. Harden isn’t going anywhere, but I expect McHale to be fired after this early exit, despite what the Rockets media has said. Rockets need a coach who’s not a fan boy of Harden. McHale’s and Morey’s superstar fucking has been toxic to this team that has a lot of potential if played and treated the right way–especially when it comes to Lin who could have been a huge asset for the Rockets.
Despite what happens to the Rockets, unless they bring in an excellent coach who has respect for Lin’s game and is brave enough to let Lin be THE floor general, I want Lin out of Houston. Lin and Harden are both ball-dominant. So Lin’s game will likely be undermined to a large extent playing alongside Harden. When Rockets got Lin, they had no idea they would get Harden. It’s been downhill for Lin ever since Harden joined the team. I do think they can work together, but it would take a coach who is sincere about making it work by, again, having Lin be THE floor general. But that’s a whole other discussion.
I was rooting for the Rockets tonight, because McHale at least gave Lin major minutes and I wanted to see Lin continue in the playoffs and gain more playoff experience. I think McHale went with Lin tonight, because he knows that Lin can help him win and save his job. So that’s why he went with Lin instead of his made-up superstar Beverley. That being said, Lin wasn’t THE floor general like he was in Game 5. Tonight was the H&H boys’ show and the H&H boys nearly pulled out a win. Apart from Game 5, I thought tonight was the best the Rockets have looked all series. I think they were starting to get in their groove, because of the success of Game 5. But it came too little too late. Alas.
Here’s a quick summary of the Rockets/Blazers series:
- Game 1: McHale scraps anything that worked all season and let his Harden fan boy completely take over and tried to win with Harden Hero Balling. Result: Rockets had zero ball movement. Jeremy Lin had “the look” late in the fourth and went Linsane in overtime, but McHale took the ball out of Lin’s hands in favor of Harden in crunch time. Rockets lose home game.
- Game 2: Since Harden couldn’t get it done, McHale opted to go with his other superstar and win with Howard Post Ups. Result: Rockets had zero ball movement. Jeremy Lin had “the look” and was just starting to turn it up late in the fourth (just like he did in Game 1), but McHale yanks Lin after he notices Lin not automatically dumping the ball to the H&H boys. Rockets lose two in a row at home.
- Game 3: McHale is FORCED to stay with Lin the entire fourth quarter and into overtime, even though Lin was not automatically dumping the ball to the H&H boys, because Parsons fouled out of the game late in the fourth. Lin actually gets away with being THE floor general late in the fourth and into overtime and takes full advantage of his rare moments of playing freely. Result: Rockets had good ball movement late in the fourth and in overtime for the first time in the series. Lin saves Harden from a detrimental turnover and Troy Daniels nails a wide open three feed from Lin. Rockets win first game of the series in hostile territory.
- Game 4: McHale yanks Lin with over 6:40 left to go in the fourth quarter and unjustly benches Lin in overtime (taking Lin out precisely during the time of the game Lin has been so effective all series). Result: Rockets looked sluggish in overtime and go down 1-3 in the series.
- Game 5: With Beverley down with the flu, McHale is FORCED to go with Lin for the majority of the game and Lin gets to play his game and be THE floor general the majority of the time he’s on the floor for the first time in the series without the fear of being benched. Result: Rockets FINALLY moved the ball and had the most assists they’ve had all series with very balanced scoring. Rockets take care of business with their most convincing win of the series (108 to 98).
- Game 6: Well, you know. McHale irrationally benches Lin to prove his McFale point that Lin isn’t a good defender with less than a second left to go, even though Lin completely shut down Lillard the entire fourth quarter. Result: Lillard gets wide open and nails game winning three. Rockets are the first team in the West eliminated from the first round.
The common thread through all of these games is when McHale is FORCED to go against this natural coaching instincts when it comes to Lin, Rockets win. If McHale is free to marginalize and diminish Lin, Rockets Lose. It can’t be any clearer. Lin is very critical to the Rockets winning and Rockets could have won this series without much of a problem if they just let Lin be Lin. If it weren’t for McHale getting in Lin’s way, the Rockets would have been on their way to the next round. Instead, because of McHale’s toxic coaching, the Rockets end up no better than they were before Howard joined.
Congratulations to the Blazers for competing their hearts out and playing basketball the right way. Congratulations to Damian Lillard, who made an amazing game winning (albeit wide open) shot and being so poised as a second year in his first playoff experience. The Blazers are a team worthy of rooting for and I hope they or the Spurs (another worthy team) go all the way.