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How Is Houston Against the Play-Off & Elite Teams?

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by crash5179, Feb 2, 2014.

  1. crash5179

    crash5179 Contributing Member

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    Houston has been wildly inconsistent this season for a number of reasons, with losses to the 76ers, Lakers, Jazz and twice against the Kings. Some nights they just don’t seem engaged in the game. Sometimes it’s just one or two key players and sometimes it’s the whole team. They have also had a number of signature wins against some upper echelon teams but not looking competitive against some others.

    Results wise, how are they fairing against the play-off teams? As of this writing the Rockets have a 15 and 10 record against teams currently holding a play-off seed in the NBA. The Rockets are 9 and 8 against WCF teams holding a play-off seed. If you look at just their record against the Upper Echelon teams (based on 1st half record); the Trailblazers, Thunder, Spurs, Heat and Pacers, they have a 5 and 4 record.

    Record Against Current Play-Off Teams
    15 wins and 10 losses .600 winning percentage

    Record Against WCR Play-Off Teams
    9 wins and 8 losses .553 winning percentage

    Record Against Upper Echelon Teams
    5 wins and 4 losses .556 winning percentage

    7 losses against non play-off teams

    So How Do The Rockets Record Compare To Upper Echelon Teams?

    Based on current records, the Pacers, Heat, Thunder, Spurs and Blazers are all upper echelon teams. The 2nd tier teams would be the Clippers, Rockets, Suns and Warriors.

    Indiana Pacers
    vs play-off teams - 16 win and 9 loss .655 winning percentage
    vs. upper echelon teams - 2 win and 3 loss .400 winning percentage
    1 loss against non play-off teams

    Miami Heat
    vs play-off teams - 15 win and 8 loss .625 winning percentage
    vs. upper echelon teams - 3 win and 2 loss .600 winning percentage
    5 losses against non play-off teams

    OKC Thunder
    vs play-off teams - 18 win and 7 loss .720 winning percentage
    vs. upper echelon teams - 6 win and 2 loss .750 winning percentage
    4 losses against non play-off teams

    Portland Blazers
    vs play-off teams - 14 win and 8 loss .636 winning percentage
    vs. upper echelon teams - 5 win and 2 loss .710 winning percentage
    5 losses against non play-off teams

    SA Spurs
    vs play-off teams - 5 win and 12 loss .294 winning percentage
    vs. upper echelon teams - win and 7 loss .000 winning percentage
    1 loss against non play-off teams

    Averages for the Upper Echelon Teams
    vs play-off teams - 16 win and 9 loss .640 winning percentage
    vs. upper echelon teams - 3 win and 3 loss .500 winning percentage
    3 losses against non play-off teams

    What Does It Mean?

    The Spurs and the Pacers absolutely feast on non play-off teams and none of the upper echelon teams have more than 5 losses to non play-off teams. If the Pacers fall back to the average they would still be Elite but it the Spurs fall back to average they will be a 2nd tier team. If the Rockets move closer to the average of 3 losses to non play-off teams then they would move into to the top tier based on record.

    Houston also has a decent record against the elite teams winning 5 out of 9 games but the Thunder are just dominating the elite by only losing only 2 out of 8 games. The Blazers have been almost as good good losing only 2 games out of 7 against the elite.

    It looks like the Spurs might actually fall out of the elite grouping as they have 0 wins against upper echelon teams and only 5 wins against play-off teams as a whole. The Spurs dominate lesser talented teams with their skill and discipline but they do not appear to have the legs or athleticism to keep up with any of the more talented teams in the league. To make matters worse for the Spurs, they have played the fewest games against play-off teams but have by far the most losses.

    While it’s always great to beat the Spurs, the 3 wins against them by the Rockets suddenly doesn’t look as impressive.

    The Are Who We Thought They Were!” or are they?

    <object width="420" height="315"><param name="movie" value="//www.youtube.com/v/SWmQbk5h86w?version=3&amp;hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="//www.youtube.com/v/SWmQbk5h86w?version=3&amp;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="420" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>

    The Trail Blazers have had the good fortune of health, no major scheme changes and only 1 minor change to last seasons starting line-up. Robin Lopez has stepped into basically the same roll that JJ Hickson played last season (with better defense), which is the same roll that Lopez has played his entire career. Add that to the fact that last seasons rookie of the year (Damion Lillard) has made the expected improvement in an already outstanding game and I think it’s reasonable to expect the Blazers to be really good. But are they truly elite? The Blazers have Mo Williams and CJ McCollum as their main reserves coming off of the bench but non of their reserves are averaging as much as 10 points a game. They have no real front court depth so good luck if Lopez, Batum or LMA goes down for a few games.

    The Clippers with the addition of Doc Rivers as the head coach, were considered to be one of the top four teams in the west. While they have been good, they are not where many thought they would be in the West. But considering what they have gone through it’s not a huge surprise. They have had significant changes to the starting line up with Jarred Dudley and JJ Reddick replacing Willie Green and Caron Butler. They have also had a coaching change that came with a philosophy change to the team. To top it all off the Clippers have lost their starting back court of Reddick and Paul to major injuries. Reddick is back and Paul is expected back in a couple of weeks. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are playing the best basketball of their careers (Thanks to Doc Rivers IMO). Once they have a chance to gel and get everyone healthy I expect they will have a serious shot at moving into the elite.

    The Rockets definitely are not who we thought they were going to be. When you put a team on the court with the best shooting guard and the best center in basketball you expect to have an elite team. But to be fair to the Rockets, they had major changes to the starting line-up, with Beverly, TJones and Dwight Howard being added to that group. Adding Dwight also meant that the team has had to go through a major philosophical change on how the team runs its offense. Instead of the run and gun philosophy of last season, the Rockets now play a lot more half court offense and making a conscious effort to play inside out. The team has gone through one injury after another. Unlike the Blazers that have had the same starting unit all season, Dwight Howard is the only Rockets starter not to miss multiple games. Like the Clippers, the Rockets have a chance to regain full health by the all-star break and if they can keep the same rotation for an extended period of time and start to gel then I could see them overtaking the Spurs and moving into the elite of the West.

    Some Final Thoughts

    If Omer Asik has not been traded by the trade deadline and considering the emergence of Terrence Jones as a starter and Donatas Motiejunas as a rotational player, the Rockets depth issues at those positions could change from a weakness to a major strength and advantage come play-off time.

    The single biggest thing the Rockets need is health because with health comes continuity in the rotation. All the injuries have given Kevin McHale the opportunity to see a lot of players regardless if he wanted to or not and it’s given DMo a chance to prove he is a rotation player. As a result I think Kevin probably knows how he wants his rotation set once Asik comes back. Continuity. Health. Give the starters (Beverly, Harden, CP25, TJones, D12) a month of games together with everyone healthy. Give Jeremy Lin a full month of health as the 6th man to know exactly what his roll is and to allow him to get comfortable in that roll. When Jeremy is healthy, comfortable in his roll and confident he is an offensive force.

    Once Kevin McHale knows has all of his weapons available and healthy together and all the players are able to get comfortable in their rolls I think we will see much more consistent results. I think at that point the Rockets could overtake the Spurs and host at least one play-off series. And if the Rockets could just start hitting their 3 point shots at what is their career averages, they will be a nightmare for any of the elite teams of the league.
     
    #1 crash5179, Feb 2, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2014
    12 people like this.
  2. TheMystery008

    TheMystery008 Member

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    Another great post from Crash.

    I agree with your last sentiment.

    If we don't trade Asik at the deadline and he starts playing for us, our weakness will become a strength.
     
  3. heypartner

    heypartner Contributing Member

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    Let me be the first to say that crash5179 is a freaking true basketball fan -- writing up this post during the Super Bowl.

    I think the Rockets record against good team is in-line with who we are...it's fine, not an Indicator of something we didn't already know. Although, could be skewed if you don't give the 3-0 to the Spurs much credit, which I do. They definitely tried to win, and we were injured, too.

    One thing to note is strength of schedule. Miami does not play themselves. So Upper Echelon teams should have better records vs Upper Echelon teams, just because they are better, if that makes sense.

    Overall, a .600 is good...compared to overall record.

    I still say the key stat is Road Wins vs Home Losses. The biggest thing that stat shows is we have no chance to overtake the Clippers, but might catch Portland.
     
  4. felixng2012

    felixng2012 Member

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    Nice post. I expect the Spurs to struggle more than usual do to an aging big 3 and due to injuries. The Blazers are falling off rapidly. The started off with an extremely weak schedule and now have a very tough schedule.

    I expect the Clippers and Rockets to move up and the Blazers to fall down. Ideally we want to get the 4th seed and hope that somehow the Blazers fall down to 5th so we can face them in the 1st round.
     
  5. Clarinetmonster

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    Biggest thing I took from this - make no mistake, OKC is still great without Westbrook and capable of winning it all this year.
     
  6. crash5179

    crash5179 Contributing Member

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    Denver is getting an Ass Whoopen so I don't feel like I'm missing much. I got the game on though. All good observations by you. It's not exactly apples to apples comparison. Miami and Indy each have a significantly easier schedule than Houston and doesn't have close to the number of games against the elite teams as Houston does.

    It's looking more and more to me that the only thing Houston needs is some really good wing play from the bench and a reliable 3 point shooter off of the bench. I thought Courtney Lee would have been perfect and it would be great to get Mike Dunleavy but I just don't see it happening prior to the summer when Houston has the MLE at their disposal.
     
    #6 crash5179, Feb 2, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2014
  7. crash5179

    crash5179 Contributing Member

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    Still shocking to me. I thought OKC would see a big drop with out Westbrook but Durant is a freaking demon and the Thunder are playing great defense. I didn't expect it.
     
  8. oakdogg

    oakdogg Contributing Member

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    One can probably make these excuses for all the teams, but I do remember the Rockets being dog, dog tired twice when they played OKC and once against the Clippers. Sometimes, I believe the schedule beats you as much as your opponent.
     
  9. htwnbandit

    htwnbandit Member

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    Not all of us really care about the Super Bowl lol
     
  10. meh

    meh Contributing Member

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    It really just goes to show you the value of Lebron and Durant that their teams can go through injuries and stay intact because of one superstar.

    Also makes it clear Harden and Howard are most definitely at least one tier below them. If we want to catch up, we have to have much superior talent around Harden/Howard.
     
  11. jbasket

    jbasket Member

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    Also important for this discussion is when said team played the playoff teams, and the general amount of games played in total. fatigue is a factor with such a small sample size.
     
  12. The_Yoyo

    The_Yoyo Contributing Member

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    great post

    would it be possible to break down the record for each of the teams you have above in WC and EC teams like you have done with the Rockets?

    The Heat and Pacers by virtue of playing eastern conference "playoff" teams more than twice will likely have a much better record vs "playoff teams" but if their winning percentage against the west is similar to that of the western conference 'elite' or even 2nd tier - it would give us a better picture. If Portland is .400 against the west but .700 against the east playoff teams - the .400 record is more telling and will weigh a lot more come playoff time.


    but otherwise excellent post. The losses to those teams early on due sting quite a bit - if the Rockets managed to win 2 out of those 5 (lakers/sixers since those were buzzer beater type games) they would be 34-15 and closer to be being considered one of the western contenders. The biggest thing has been health for this team you see them getting into grooves when there isnt any real injuries and the coaching staff can develop lineups and the team build better chemistry when it comes to roles and comfort levels.

    If Asik comes back there will be another 'learning process' of course for the team but having Asik back and playing at the same level as he did last year will only help the team is probably good for 3-5 wins on its own. (how many times did the Rockets lose leads and games because there was no rim protection or rebounding once Dwight went to the bench?). I believe the Rockets have only played 2 games with their current starting 5 and their top 2 bench guys (lin, asik) this season - which is amazing considering the current record they have.

    Portland by far has had the best luck with injuries - having played only 1 starting lineup the entire season - their bench is super thin but their starting 5 plays so well together so sometimes a bench isnt needed as much, but it will be curious to see what would happen if Lopez or Batum are out for a little bit.

    Spurs are hit with the bug right now and are in a complete slump as a result - and the bug didnt even take out their best two players in Parker and Duncan. The Spurs may drop some more with Kawhi and Manu out.

    Thunder have sustained the ship the best, but they have two things going for them - having the best player in the league not named LeBron and having a very capable backup in Jackson (and having a capable 3rd string PG in Fisher). Their injury happened in a position of depth for them and they havent had any other major injuries either.

    edit:
    As for the clippers they are the real puzzling team of the bunch to me. Honestly I thought they would be out to a much better start than they got off to before the Paul injury and played decently since the Paul injury thanks to a eastern conference heavy part of their schedule. Much like OKC their two majority injuries this season (Redick and Paul) have come in positions of depth so they were able to sustain those injuries better than they would if someone like DeAndre or Blake was out for an extended period of time. Also the two injuries did not happen at the same time which was beneficial. The month of Feb will be tougher though for the clippers as they play a lot of contending and playoff teams (heat, blazers, raptors, rockets, spurs at home -- okc, memphis, denver and pelicans on road) without Paul for these teams they may slip down to the 5th or 6th spot temporarily. I am not sure how much Doc has helped since they are 34-16 right now and that was their record last year 50 games in. I would believe that the addition of Redick and Dudley and the improvement in DeAndre and Blake would have resulted in an improvement of at least one game, but no. I mean I dont want to face the clippers in the playoffs they and OKC have the Rockets number, but I dont have faith in them to make it past the second round but if they stay in that the 4-6th area even making past the first round is not a sure thing.

    I am just hoping that the Rockets can stay healthy post all-star break and into the playoffs. Even if Asik doesnt play - having the other guys stay healthy this team is still good enough to make a run at the WCF if everyone else is healthy (provided they dont meet OKC until then). The month of Feb is going to be big for this team - not too many games but a big 5 game west coast road trip will say a lot about the character of the team
     
    #12 The_Yoyo, Feb 2, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  13. heypartner

    heypartner Contributing Member

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    The_Yoyo

    Portland also had by far the easiest schedule, and by far the most difficult coming up.

    Also, can you append your post with your take on the Clippers. I was disappointed you didn't include your take on them. According to the best ranking stat around (Road Wins vs Home Losses), Clippers are 2nd in the West and 3rd overall.
     
    1 person likes this.
  14. Kruze10

    Kruze10 Member

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    The Suns are kind of a scary team right now. They have the Rockets number and if they acquire Gasol from the Lakers for Okafor's corpse, they'll have a really good (big) front court that'll just dominate.
     
  15. Sweet Lou 4 2

    Sweet Lou 4 2 Contributing Member

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    I think you throw out our records against teams - because I honestly think the Rockets have one major problem and one major problem only.

    Scoring against defenses that attack the primary perimeter ball handler.

    It doesn't matter what team, but when a team puts a physical defender on Harden who bodies him up and the refs allow the play, or when they double or trap off the PnR forcing the ball handler to pass over the top of tall guys or basically pick up their dribble, we really struggle.

    Why our guys don't split defenders well, or recognize the trap and move the ball to a wide open guy is beyond me. It seems to be some type of tunnel vision.

    But in any case, first solve the primary problem with the team, because then a lot of these individual records against teams will look a lot different.
     
    1 person likes this.
  16. Clarinetmonster

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    Definitely an issue - for sure against OKC and IND. Who else? Clips, maybe Memphis?
     
  17. mfastx

    mfastx Member

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    We are 3-0 against SA and 2-1 against Portland. We've lost horribly to the Clippers, Thunder and Pacers.

    We don't match up with those teams well.
     
  18. Fullcourt

    Fullcourt Contributing Member

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    Not many 'Elite' teams this year. Barring funky matchups, OKC, Indy, and Miami are on a different planet from the rest of the league this year. A healthy, focused San Antonio might be there as well, but they don't have the wins to show for it though.
     
  19. Clarinetmonster

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    true, but unfortunately, they don't have to be elite to be bad matchups for us (Clips, Memphis, sometimes Dallas and Suns)
     
  20. Sweet Lou 4 2

    Sweet Lou 4 2 Contributing Member

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    You saw it against Dallas the other night. It's pervasive. Any playoff team with good D will be able to do this to us unless we figure it out.
     

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