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Are the Rockets Actually Making Progress?

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by thacabbage, Dec 18, 2008.

  1. thacabbage

    thacabbage Contributing Member

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    I think we're going about measuring a lot of these wins in the wrong manner. A win over a quality opponent is always good, but we need to see if the team is actually progressing.

    From the Denver game, the positives I picked up were:

    *McGrady looked very good again and seemed comfortable running the offense as in years past.
    *Once again, Aaron Brooks stood up to the challenge in a start against a star point guard. He's contained both Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups now in Rafer's absence, when one of the biggest knocks against him was his defense. Strangely, e did get abused by George Hill though. I think the explanation for this is that the defense against Paul and Billups was a team effort of focusing in on them. Regardless, this shows we have enough help to keep Brooks on the floor.
    *Artest gave us a huge lift off the bench. Those are the situations we've needed a 3rd scorer. When the offense goes dry and the team needs a shot in the arm. Just as designed, he gave us the spark off the bench and then closed out the game alongside Battier.

    However:
    *I hate putting too much weight on a game where Yao erupts for 30+ points. It's really a terrible indicator of the team's potential. That's why while this was a good win, it's not cause for a parade. More on this later.
    *Despite scoring 20 points, most of Artest's baskets were still the same jack-ups that he usually misses. That 3 pointer where he doesn't jump but is off-balance while sticking one foot out. His patented driving left pull up jumper. These are not high quality shots and not something you can rely on.

    I'm thrilled with our production at the 4. I can't remember the last time I thought "man we got killed at the 4 tonite." I think we can get by with Alston and Brooks at the point. I would like to see some minor David Wesley/Jon Barry deal made to find someone to fill the Brent Barry role. We need a veteran 3 point shooting guard in the playoffs. I'm not too concerned about Mac. He's always there at the end.

    My concerns are getting Artest in comfortable scoring position and finding a way to beat the fronting defense. Adelman just has to do a better job at these things. Artest is at his best when he's moving off the ball going towards the basket. They have to find a way to get him into more of these situations. He can be a big weapon for this team but he has to be used correctly.

    Most importantly, the biggest obstacle to this team's hopes, other than health, is the fronting defenses against Yao. It's been a pretty consistent pattern this year. If Yao goess off, we win. If he has a poor game, we lose. The best teams will not play behind Yao in the playoffs. Before I can feel confident in the Rockets, I need to either see them successfully beat the fronting defense, which I feel is unlikely, or I need to see them be able to find other ways to consistently score despite an ineffective Yao.

    The Rockets simply cannot continue to live and die with Yao. He is not Hakeem. If he is the end-all, be-all focal point of the offense, as he has been this season, it will once again be a short season. He cannot be expected to produce on a nightly basis. He needs to be treated like a weapon that can destroy a team if a matchup is favorable, but one that the team is not dependent upon to win. When facing a fronting defense, the offense has unraveled worse than a Francis/Mobley offense in the face of a full court press.

    One adjustment JVG made was making Yao the end of the play rather than the beginning. Rather than dumping the ball in to him and making him work, the play started somewhere else and ended with Yao right under the basket with single coverage. I don't know if this is the answer.

    I love Rick Adelman and think he did a phenomenal job coaching this team last season but taking into consideration the expected defensive drop-off, he absolutely has to do a better job putting all 3 of our star players in better position to succeed offensively. Let's hope health allows him to do this.
     
  2. ShadyMcGrady

    ShadyMcGrady Contributing Member

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    I think you bring up good points but wait till after this 4 game stretch to make a decision. T-Mac, Yao, Artest, and Shane have just started to play together, and Alston isn't even playing.

    Although I do think we're making progress, it's kind of like 1 step forward, a half step back.
     
  3. Kracka0476

    Kracka0476 Member

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    wow i wanted to fall asleep right in the middle of reading this!!!
     
  4. Ziggy

    Ziggy QUEEN ANON

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    Thats his game though. He relied on that last year, and the year with Adelman in Sacramento. All you can do is hope the ankle hurt his %. The difference between this Nuggets game and the last for Artest... He got FT calls! He didn't attack as much, but he got calls when he did.
     
  5. tiger0330

    tiger0330 Contributing Member

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    I haven't been a fan of Barry but maybe that torn calf has been affecting his shot all season. He can be huge if he starts making his 3, this offense is perfect for his skill set.
     
  6. kingk0ng

    kingk0ng Member

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    I agreed with you here
     
  7. badgerfan

    badgerfan Member

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    The Rockets are going to live and die by Yao's effectiveness. The biggest improvement Adelman has brought to the offense is the increased creativity in getting Yao the ball regardless of what the defense is doing.

    Feigen at the Chronicle wrote that the loss to the Clips was basically due to the Rockets' inability to get the ball to Yao. When the Rockets are moving the ball and getting it to Yao deep in the paint they win, it's as simple as that.
     
  8. AroundTheWorld

    AroundTheWorld Insufferable 98er
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    I think you are right about the importance of us finding a way to beat the fronting defense, but this part confused me:

    I think the person to fill the Brent Barry role will be... Brent Barry! :)
     
  9. DieHard Rocket

    DieHard Rocket Contributing Member

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    That was one of the best, most accurate posts I've read in the GARM in a LONG time, especially the part about Yao.

    I'm hoping Yao will return to that dominant form we saw at the end of the season two years ago, where he really had his confidence and all facets of his game going, and was just dominating every night. That Yao could be the focal point of the offense.
     
  10. badgerfan

    badgerfan Member

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    It's not just that the Rockets win when Yao does well, it's also that generally speaking the Rockets have played their best basketball when Yao gets lots of touches and the perimeter opens up as a consequence.

    Yao attracts a lot of attention when he gets the ball in the low post and that allows the other Rockets to get open shots.
     
  11. DaDakota

    DaDakota If you want to know, just ask!

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    This was a FANTASTIC post Cabbage, not good, not very good, but FANTASTIC !!!

    A couple of things I have noticed as of late, Adelman is using Yao as a finisher and the team is doing a lot of reposting for Yao where he gets even deeper position in the paint.

    In last nights games a ton of times, Yao would come out, set the pick on McGrady and roll, but the ball did not go to Yao on the roll but rather to the corner and THEN to Yao as he got deep position, this is a great way of beating the fronting defense, get Yao out of the block and moving.

    Also, I am not convinced that Ron fits, but am encouraged by last nights play. My main issue with Ron has always been that I think he needs the ball to be successful, and he scores off the bounce, we have 2 penetrating passing players in Brooks and Tmac, we need guys who move without the ball and can attack and shoot the J.

    If Artest can do that, then great !!!

    Also, on occasions when you can have Ron at the 4, you can more easily hide Brooks on D by putting him on the least productive guard on the other team.

    Back to Yao, I hear ya, he has always been taken out of his game more easily by fronting, and for some reason he doesn't take advantage and rebound the ball on the offensive end when that happens.

    Also the team has done a piss poor job of ball reversal by flashing a PF to the FT line for the seal by Yao and entry pass from the top for the dunk.

    Hopefully they will get it.

    But, the one big concern I have is Tmac.....and not his health, but how he plays. These last few games he has been amazing, so unselfish and really looking to be the facilitator of the offense, THAT is the Tmac this team needs, he draws so much attention that it opens it up for our role players.

    If he continues to play like that, and not the guy that dominates the shots, I believe the team will grow from here.

    All we need is time, chemistry...and of course...health.....and for the players to play their roles....

    DD
     
  12. agentkirb87

    agentkirb87 Member

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    I'm with the OP sorta. Before the Denver game, Tmac and Artest aren't playing at the level they usually play at, yet we were still in the division race. So IMO its all about, can Tmac and Artest play back to their old level consistently? If they do then we are in good shape.
     
  13. Jeff Who

    Jeff Who Member

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    Of course, we've improved a lot. First of all, we have Tracy Yao and Ron playing together. Tracy looks great, so does Yao. Let's only hope Shane and Ron can be 100% healthly quickly.

    Right now we only have to play better defense. But generally I see a lot of improvement.
     
  14. battousai

    battousai Member

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    The point of the offense is not solely live or die with Yao. The point of the offense is to move with Yao and set him up as the vocal point of our offense.

    It's the very simple inside outside game. certainly this isn't the only offense style we have but a very effective one with a 7'6" playing in the middle.

    Think about it who can stop yao from passing at a high percentage? You can front Yao and slow him down for scoring but his passing is effective as anyone in NBA who are not top point-guards. you just can't measure that with assist.

    We get the ball to Yao, depends on the defense as Yao is a good reader of that. He then pass or score at wills. If we stay away from that play, our offense stagnant. we don't know what to do. how else would you incorporate a 7 footer? setting picks? shooting jumpers? The most bang for the bucks is setting him up in the middle like a sun and rest of the players as planets rotating around Yao.

    Tmac effectiveness is also the same theory, inside out. Tmac taking into the hoops opens up opportunities. he can either score or pass out to create shots for his teammates. same as Yao inside out. Tmac tmac settling for jumpers, heat check, that's when we are in trouble.
     
  15. badgerfan

    badgerfan Member

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    The Rockets have shown a lot more creativity under Adelman when it comes to getting the ball to Yao in good position and beating the fronting defense, either through re-posting, letting Yao kick the ball out and faking swinging it around the perimeter but instead dumping the ball back in to Yao in the middle of the paint, etc. etc. I'm convinced that the team as a whole can beat the fronting defense so I wouldn't give up on that just yet.

    I thought Artest looked a lot better and a lot more comfortable coming off the bench.

    I'm not sure the team really works when both T-Mac and Yao are just looking to score. What intrigues me is T-Mac as Oscar Robertson, T-Mac the play maker getting close to a triple double every night. Way back when in the Dallas series Magic Johnson said that T-Mac and Yao kind of reminded him of Magic and Kareem. That's high, high praise. I thought the following quote from T-Mac was interesting:

    Yao owned the third quarter as McGrady set him up time and time again.

    "You know, Yao, I should have had 15 assists," McGrady jokingly called across the locker room to where the center was reading a boxscore. "All those dropped passes. Fifteen assists, Yao. That's what could have been."

    http://blogs.chron.com/franblinebury/2008/12/rock_n_roll_fantasy_rockets_10.html
     
  16. jondoe

    jondoe Member

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    The issue is that by passing in to yao, it makes the offense easier and smoother. most of the time, he gets a double team, making someone open. We have seen when the wing players try to do there own thing, it just doesnt work. There is a reason why teams put a premium on low post players.
     
  17. verse

    verse Contributing Member

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    what up cabby? good to see u posting.

    i'm clueless as to why the rox haven't figured out the fronting defenses. it isn't that difficult to defeat and there are numerous methods to do so:

    1) tell yao to get wider in the damn post. butt goes lower, left elbow flanks out more (preferably with elbow @ shoulder height).

    2) tell yao to go back-to-chest with post defenders. the best way to know where the D's @ is having your back on their chest. yao allows too much space between the 2 and that encourages defenders to jump/slide around him. if he were to pin his man and/or walk his man back into the rim, that wouldn't happen.

    3) if fronted, swing the ball to the weakside while yao moves slowly across the low blocks. jvg did this a lot & was successful with it.

    4) if fronted, flash the 4 (who is opposite block from yao always) to the free throw line. the strongside guard passes to scola/carl and they finish with a little drop/bounce pass to yao who is already pinning his man out of the paint and in perfect position to dunk.

    as for ronron, brah that's part of his game. I'd prefer him being more adrian dantley-like in his game, though, too.
     
  18. A_3PO

    A_3PO Member

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    Good OP. In answer to the thread title, I'm not sure if the Rockets are making progress. It's important this team get a lot of playing time together to figure each other out. The Rockets rotation players need the next 50 games to develop a feel for how they will handle adverse situations and tough defenses. It isn't just a matter of being healthy for the playoffs. Yao, Tracy, Ron, Shane, Rafer, AB, Scola, Landry (and mix in Barry and Chuck) have to come together and get on the same page.

    Regarding fronting Yao, I think everyone must accept that Yao is not that big of a target in the post because he can't jump or move laterally and doesn't seal his man off very well. It's just the way it is. Most of the time when opposing teams decide Yao won't get the ball, he won't. The key to attacking fronting defenses is taking what they give you instead of trying to force it into Yao. When teams shade 2 or 3 players toward Yao, the Rockets have to punish that. They have to show other teams why they shouldn't front Yao. Until then, oh well.
     
  19. Big MAK

    Big MAK Member

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    Progress is measured over time. Ron Tracy and Yao have been in 1 game since T and Ron got back from injuries. Time will tell if we are progressing, not 1 game.

    OP - Make this thread again after they have been back 10 games or so, and we can compare then.

    Cheers,
    MK
     
  20. choujie

    choujie Member

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    Kinda contridict yourself here. I believe Yao gets favorable matchups almost every night. That's the reason why Rox should go to Yao almost everynight. That will force double team and open up the floor. When facing a fronting defense, Rockets just need to be more patient, and they are doing better recently. I didn't see what's wrong with Yao being the end-all, be-all focal point at this moment. He is not as easily tired as before, he's shooting at a high percentage. The past short seasons were not cause by Yao getting the ball, but by injuries or lack of talents.
     

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