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Analyzing our last 3 games (Part 2)

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by coyotetex, Feb 7, 2020.

  1. coyotetex

    coyotetex Member

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    4th Quarters:

    HOU: 24
    LAL: 18 (30, 34, 29 in other 3 quarters)

    CHA: 22 (25, 29, 34 in other 3 quarters)
    HOU: 33

    NOP: 16 (33,32, 28 in other 3 quarters)
    HOU: 25

    In three tight games entering the 4th quarter, the Rockets have turned up their defensive intensity in the final frame and held their opponents to 18, 22 and 16 in crunch time. That's elite level defensive play.

    (BTW - In the Dallas game, the Rockets entered the 4th with a 16 point lead and sort of coasted to the victory. That's still troubling as the Rockets need to develop a killer instinct and just bury opponents instead of letting down as we've seen in the past.)

    You know what this reminds me of? The 65 win Rockets from 2017 / 18.

    Down the stretch and in the playoffs, that team had an extra gear they could turn on in the fourth quarter with CP3, Luke and Ariza and the switching / swarming defense. Go back and look at the Rockets in the playoffs that year. Until Chris Paul went down, the Rockets showed the ability to impose their will defensively in the 4th quarter game after game after game - even against elite offenses like the Warriors.

    I feel like Covington and Bruno may be able to replace Ariza & Luke. And you know who I think has replaced CP3's defensive production?

    James Harden.

    FiveThiryEight's On/Off Defensive Raptor measures how valuable a player is defensively when they are on the floor versus when they are off the floor. Amongst players with 1250 minutes or more, here is the list of the top defensive players in On/Off Raptor defensive ratings:

    1. Dennis Schroder
    2. Kawhi Leonard
    3. Lebron James
    4. Giannis Antetokounmpo
    5. Jayson Tatum
    6. Rudy Gobert
    7. Kris Dunn
    8. Al Horford
    9. Maxi Kleber
    10. James Harden

    For all his world class defensive skills (which are eroding fairly quickly with age), CP3 was a liability guarding opposing bigs. Harden is in the 95th+ percentile in the league in post defense.

    If you watched the game last night, there was a possession in the 2nd half where AD went head to head against Harden in the lane - and Harden literally dug him out of the lane, pushed him back and forced him to take a contested jump shot near the free throw line. AD made the shot - but it wasn't the "easy layup" that Shaq and Barkley said AD would be able to get all night long. AD had to WORK for those 2 points. A lesser player misses that shot or turns it over.

    This style of play maximizes Harden's best defensive asset - his post defense.

    And the Rockets ability to put one of the thicc boys (Harden, Gordon or Tucker) on a big and physically work them over, even if they eventually score, will take its toll.

    That brings us to the Rockets secret weapon that they didn't necessarily have in 2017 / 18.

    Fatigue.

    The Lakers bigs were tired at the end of the game last night. One of the things that people ignore about the idea of pounding the ball inside over and over and over again is that banging like that takes a lot of energy. When you combine that with the fact that your bigs are having to expend a LOT more energy on the defensive end guarding on the perimeter and chasing Westbrook around the floor (instead of resting in the lane for the 6 or 7 seconds that refs allow against the Rockets) AND the fact that the Rockets are pushing the number of possessions by shooting quickly (which makes bigs run back and forth more often) you get tired ass big men in the 4th quarter.

    Denver has Jokic.

    LAL has Davis

    Utah has Gobert

    But none of these teams have 2 elite big men. They have one. One guy that if he's already scored 30 and pulled down 20 boards on the night, will be gassed at the end of the game when the Rockets are swarming on D and attacking on O.

    Fatigue is going to be a major factor. Especially in clutch time. The fact that over the past three games, the Rockets have played their best defense in the 4th with the game on the line seems to support this idea.
     
    #1 coyotetex, Feb 7, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2020
  2. diehardrockets

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    I was thinking the same thing when it comes to the fatigue factor. It was extremely noticeable how much more energy the Rockets had on the defensive end throughout the last 3-4 games.. especially in the 4th.. and ESPECIALLY in the last game against LA.

    We really have been able to kick it into an extra gear, and I think a lot of that attributes to our ability to more evenly distribute minutes with this new lineup and to now completely be able to commit to the swarming/switching defense.
     
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  3. hakeem94

    hakeem94 Member

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    even before committing fully to small ball rockets showed flashes of being capable of being elite on defense and I trusted they gonna be elite defensive team in playoffs
     
  4. gotsis

    gotsis Member

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    Great analysis. I admit I was skeptical of the whole (we don't play centers) mantra. But I'm ecstatic they doubled down on this and went all out. No idea if it's sustainable, but we have become by far the most interesting storyline in terms of pushing the boundaries towards the evolution of basketball.

    Wish we can get a serviceable center for spot up minutes in the buyout market and another 3&D wing, with that we can go far in the playoffs
     
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  5. coyotetex

    coyotetex Member

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    You know, I feel like we have 10 minutes a game with Tyson Chandler if needed. And Harty isn't nothing (as long as we're playing anyone but OKC).

    I do want another 3&D guy who is a banger like Tuck. My biggest fear is that Tuck goes down with a major injury or that he fouls out early in a big game and we don't have another guy with an enforcer type mentality to throw on the floor.
     
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  6. topfive

    topfive CF OG
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    @coyotetex, you're killing it, dude. Great work.

    One caveat to the idea of their bigs wearing down in the 4th: We probably shouldn't rely on PJ to hit big shots in the 4th, because he'll either be bone tired or on the bench with 6 fouls.
     
  7. Air Yordan

    Air Yordan Member

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    D-rock and coyotetex like this.
  8. ROXTXIA

    ROXTXIA Contributing Member
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    PJ Tucker needs to record a commercial for Extra Strength Advil.
     
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  9. gotsis

    gotsis Member

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    Fair enough. My dream scenario would be somehow snatching a big that is a good rebounder and can shoot threes. And yes, we are a wing injury away of not having enough players to play this way.

    Oh, and to add to your analysis, we really moved the ball well last night. Harden made all the right reads and at some moments we resembled the read and react offense with crisp passing, quick decision making and some smart cuts to the basket.
     
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  10. srrm

    srrm Contributing Member

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    High quality thread series!

    Right on point about Harden and his impact on defense.

    Someone remind me: was it the cp3/luc/ariza year that had the Rockets ranked top in “opponent 3pt% with space”? I remember reading about opponent 3pt shooters hitting a significantly lower percentage against us than usual particularly with 3+ ft space between them and our defender. The perimeter defense was actually proved to be intimidating
     
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  11. J Sizzle

    J Sizzle Member

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    1) I think it essentially forces the team to up its defensive effort. I think a lot of times they relied on Clint to clean up mistakes, and they now can't do that. They looked like the 2018 team last night with the traps and effort off ball.

    2) Kinda wish they went ahead and went truly all in. No centers on the roster. Add another wing or two. If this is your philosophy, try to maximize it as much as possible. Maybe they still will.
     
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  12. DeBeards

    DeBeards Member

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    wow
    1st page

    Teams w/ legitimate C and perfect wings
    2 games against utah in feb
    1 against lal, 1 against mil, all in mar
    In aprl we got 1 game against 76ers


    ………


    What's more, Dunt forget those teams that can play small 5 either:
    Mar 6th, clippers
    Aprl 6th, raptors


    Before aprl 17, we gotta make fully use of 31-32 games to pivote our schemes.
     
    #12 DeBeards, Feb 7, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2020
  13. coyotetex

    coyotetex Member

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    I agree with #2 in the long term, but I think its wise to keep a security blanket around in the short term. It's good to have a couple of bigs on the roster just in case an opponent comes up with something unexpected that you can't counter without some size on the floor.

    But long term - I think its really intriguing to have more spots on the bench. If the Rockets were playing this way 5 years ago, they would have had room to keep Covington around. Heck, if they'd made this decision earlier this year, they would still have Clark around.
     
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  14. BackNthDay

    BackNthDay Member

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    I like the Covington, PJ, Westbrook, Harden and EG - Bomb Squad!!
     
  15. DeBeards

    DeBeards Member

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    Thats an excellent narrative of how we stunned doubters and took away this W from staples.

    My concern is in post-season 5-7 games series, how long could we hold up on our defense like in this one…(1st round and 2nd round game after game) i mean tightening up all the way, and, once we worn out early or lose the toughness in our mind (choking) in any crucial game, either our star players fell into fault trouble (rigged by ref usually) or our 3s% fallen apart midway. things gonna look ugly and costly. stout is stout, FGP built on all in defense is a double sword.
     
    #15 DeBeards, Feb 7, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2020
  16. Juxtaposed Jolt

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    I'm ready for this thread to become a recurrent thing.

    @coyotetex's "Analyzing our last 3 games, part 34677"
     
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  17. Hakeemtheking

    Hakeemtheking Member

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    If the Rockets get two additional forwards / wing players that are capable of handling minutes, I think it's a guarantee one of Harty and Chandler will not make it to the playoff roster, and I'm sorry Williamson, it's going to be your man.
     
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  18. Red.Glare

    Red.Glare Member

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    But...but Barkley said small ball would wear down the Rockets in the 4th Quarter so it will never work. And we all know Charles in never wrong. ;)
     
    D-rock likes this.
  19. utgrad97

    utgrad97 Member

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    Charles thinks like it's still the 1980s NBA. There are less than 5 teams that play through a center on the block.
     
  20. D-rock

    D-rock Member

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    Answer is MKG. He is the missing piece for our run this season IMO.
     

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