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ESPN: "McHale has tough job balancing wins and DH's health"

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by ROXTXIA, Nov 6, 2015.

  1. ROXTXIA

    ROXTXIA Contributing Member
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    http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/1...igh-dwight-howard-health-versus-winning-games

    A basketball coach has to win games. That's his main priority.

    But how does he win games when one of his best players can help only on certain nights because of health issues?

    That's the dilemma facing Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale just two weeks into this season. Center Dwight Howard is slowly being brought along by the training staff after lower-back stiffness returned following his second game of the season.

    "How he's going to be out there depends on how he feels and how his wind is, legs and everything else," McHale said. "It's a bit of a balance."

    The delicate balance will be tested this weekend when the Rockets visit Sacramento on Friday night on ESPN and then the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night.

    How much Howard plays in both games, if he plays in both games, hasn't been determined. As late as Thursday, McHale wasn't sure. He just knew Howard was feeling better.

    Should McHale play Howard against the Kings if DeMarcus Cousins is absent? What about taking on the Clippers and DeAndre Jordan?

    Can Howard play both games?

    "It's going to be the day after always with the chronic stuff," McHale said. "We haven't had a chance to do a lot of day-after stuff [how Howard feels and moves] yet. He didn't play much in the preseason."

    Treading lightly

    The lower-back stiffness occurred after the Rockets' first preseason game. The medical staff took a cautious approach with Howard, choosing to keep him out of practice and games until he felt better.

    Howard's condition improved by the end of training camp, and he started practicing just before the last preseason game. But he didn't play.

    And the Rockets have a killer schedule, with an NBA-leading 20 back-to-backs. In 2014-15, the Rockets had 21 back-to-backs. Howard won't participate in back-to-back games until he builds up more strength in his back and legs.

    The weekend before Houston's win against Oklahoma City on Monday indeed raised a few eyebrows and illustrated just how serious the medical staff is with Howard. It underscored the lengths to which the training staff would go to protect the star center. At 0-2, would they risk another loss by keeping Howard out again?

    Facing a back-to-back consisting of the Heat in Miami on Sunday and the Thunder at home on Monday, the training staff put Howard through a grueling workout on Saturday before leaving for Miami to test where Howard was.

    Still struggling to round into game shape, Howard was drenched in sweat, huffing and puffing, clearly laboring. Afterward, Howard said he wasn't sure whether he was going to play in Miami.

    And he didn't.

    So McHale instead was forced to start guard Marcus Thornton, with Clint Capela playing center, while Howard watched from the bench.

    The Rockets lost the game and fell to 0-3. The next night, when Howard could play again, McHale wrung 35 minutes out of him, blowing past the prescribed minutes the training staff had recommended, and Houston beat Oklahoma City 110-105.

    The Rockets needed a win. They needed Howard.

    "This is my body"

    Howard scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds against the Thunder. After the game, Howard was asked about playing in back-to-back games. His answer was more about his future than his present.

    "I think the biggest thing is for myself, personally just continue to build and continue to get in shape and as the season goes then I'll be able to play those back-to-backs," he said. "Early in the season, I don't think it's smart to do that. People will say, 'Wow, you're young.' I've been in the league for 12 years, and I want to be able to walk when I'm done playing basketball. People can say that's selfish or not. But at the end of the day, this is my body."

    When Howard does play he's a dominant figure. In Wednesday's overtime victory against the Orlando Magic, he scored 23 points, snagged 14 rebounds while going 10-for-10 from the field. McHale praised Howard's ability to help the defense from the back end, recognizing pick-and-roll plays, helping out when someone challenges the rim with a drive. He's the best defensive stopper on the Rockets, bar none.

    Having Howard on the floor also allows McHale to keep his lineup big, so rebounding, blocking and altering shots come easier. With Howard on the bench in street clothes, McHale has to go small, forcing rookie Montrezl Harrell to play more minutes than he's ready for and sacrificing rebounding for a faster lineup.

    Ultimately, however, Howard has to be comfortable. As he said, it's his body.

    "If I don't take care of [my body] now, then I'll be in trouble when I get older," Howard said. Howard's comments echo Chicago's Derrick Rose, a terrific point guard whose career has been stymied by knee problems. This summer, Rose talked about protecting his body so he can walk normally when he retires. Warranted or not, Rose was pelted by a barrage of criticism from Bulls fans, a barrage from which some say he might not ever recover, at least in Chicago.

    Likewise, Howard's heard some of that criticism, too. He understands fans' frustration. He wants to remain on the floor for as long as possible, too. As he restores his full health, presumably he'll restore faith. Until then, he'll continue to do whatever he can to help his team.

    "Those nights when I can't play I will still be supportive, and I'm going to be out there pushing Clint [Capela], pushing those young guys to get better and at the end of the season we're going to grow from it," Howard said. "Clint will have the experience; I will be in better shape; my legs will be a lot stronger and we'll make a push to win a championship and that's all that matters.

    "I want to give everything for my teammates when I'm on the floor," he added. "Give 100 percent. Do whatever I can."
     
  2. ch0c0b0fr34k

    ch0c0b0fr34k Member

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    I've got no problem with him resting on b2b games at the start of the season. Solid strategy, so long as he doesn't get injured in the postseason.
     
  3. LabMouse

    LabMouse Member

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    I would say that McHale has a tough job balancing everything on his team, He is not just a good coach. His team was overachieved last year because of Harden, it is hard to predict that he can do the same thing on his team this year. If he can do this again, then he would be one of the great coaches in the rockets history. I just can not see it so far. Hope that I am wrong.
     
  4. malakas

    malakas Member

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    Seems like a tough job for Mchale. Maybe he should resign since it's so tough.
     
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  5. finsraider

    finsraider Member

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    Same here. It would be much easier to accept as fans if we had DMo, but its still the right move even without him. We will need both DMo and Dwight in order to win it all.
     
  6. Will

    Will Clutch Crew
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    Look, I'm a card-carrying McHale basher. He looks like Uncle Clueless most of the time, and his team plays like it. But he did an A+ job last year of integrating Smith, Brewer, and Prigioni. And we did come back from 3-1 in the conference semis and get to the WCF. And the only team we have lost to this year, when Dwight is on the floor, is the Warriors. So let's all take a deep breath and see how things play out for the next couple of months.
     
  7. CCapps

    CCapps Contributing Member

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    get out of here with your sound reasoning!!!
     
  8. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Contributing Member

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    And Dwight was in foul trouble that game. Played like twenty minutes.

    And are we blaming McHale for how bad Harden has been?
     
  9. Liberon

    Liberon Rookie

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    He didn't need to rest on Sunday against MIA.
     
  10. Raven

    Raven Member

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    The Rockets know the less Dwight plays, the more likely he'll be ready for the playoffs.
     
  11. HeyDude

    HeyDude Contributing Member

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    Its odd that he's not necessarily nursing a true injury. The article mentions a lower back issue, and soreness.....But seems like we're more just protecting him from the normal NBA grind....which is kind of absurd...Put him on a true time limit, but not having him play in back to backs is such a nuisance....
     
  12. SF3isBack!!

    SF3isBack!! Member

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    'So McHale instead was forced to start guard Marcus Thornton"


    lol
     
  13. SF3isBack!!

    SF3isBack!! Member

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    If James Harden were playing like the Beard it would be easier to accept as well. Hopefully the Beard gets in shape soon so they rest Howard more.
     
  14. joeson332

    joeson332 Member

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    will they make the playoffs first?
     
  15. KlutchQT

    KlutchQT Contributing Member

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    I hate the idea of him being in and out of the lineup all season. I guess it just is what it is with him now.
     
  16. MrButtocks

    MrButtocks Contributing Member

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    It seems like we're cursed to always have an injured front court. Dwight already missed half a season last year. What else is new?
     
  17. subtomic

    subtomic Contributing Member

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    What this tells me is that the Rockets need to start planning for a post-Dwight era. If Dwight is this fragile now, what will he be like in 3-5 years? Will he be playing only one out of three games? Will he only play games when he's had 3 or more days of rest? Can we really make the playoffs when a third of our salary cap is tied up in a part time player? What will that do to team cohesion and morale? Do you really think our role players are going to be willing to sign for a bit less money when the highest paid guy can't be on the floor for significant periods of time (and plays gingerly when he is on the floor).

    I know many here feel that Dwight is good enough (when healthy) to put up with all of this. And I've been very vocal that I do not - at least not at his price tag and given his FT and offensive shortcomings. The health stuff is not going to improve, and will likely worsen. Can we really afford to keep paying so much money for what will be inevitably diminishing returns? There are still major gaps in this team in terms of championship talent (a starting-quality PF chief among them - all of our current guys have huge holes in their games), and Dwight's salary makes remedying that close to impossible.

    Championships are not won by teams whose 2nd most important player can barely play. The Spurs may rest their guys, but that is a coaching decision - NOT a doctor's order.

    Maybe I'm wrong in my assessment, and if I am, I'd like to read a breakdown why. Because Dwight's health has deteriorated steadily for the past 4-5 years with only a brief period where he recovered significantly (his first year here). I just don't see how we can rely on him any more nor do I see how we can afford to pay him that huge salary and still surround him (and Harden) with enough talent to win a championship.
     
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  18. Will

    Will Clutch Crew
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    Actually I like him being in and out during the season. It makes it easier for us to develop a style of play for when he's out. We have enough depth that we could develop different styles/plays/rotations for various injury scenarios, which would put us in better position to adjust as needed in the playoffs.
     
  19. rocketsballin

    rocketsballin Member

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    ahh this is bullcrap. mchale just needs to coach harder
     
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  20. Hakeemtheking

    Hakeemtheking Member

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    Solid stately only if the team makes it into the playoffs, not a guaranteed thing in the Western conference.
     

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