Most view
Most Comment
 
 
Code: 274276
نظرات: 337 بازدید
Date: Thursday, May 28, 2015
Looking ahead to Game 5: Rockets at Warriors
0 0 View 0 نظر
[+] Text Size [-]

It was a typical NBA “backs against the wall” game that would have come off to annoying script had it not been so entertaining.We’re working in the Western Conference, here, where Houston had to claw its way toward the second seed despite playing in a hellacious division while missing center Dwight Howard for half a season. One could classify this as the first step toward a 4-1 Golden State “gentleman’s sweep” of the Rockets had Houston not acted so rudely to the rest of the NBA throughout the year – this was a championship contender from the start of the season, one ill-suited to the 0-3 tag that dogged it as the squad entered Game 4.

The entrance was the thing, well before the Rox torched Golden State in a 128-115 win. Houston put up an astonishing 45 points against the Warriors in the first quarter, a mark that would have been worth a laurel and hearty handshake even against a listless Toronto or Brooklyn squad in the first round. Instead, these points came against a Warriors squad that nearly led the NBA in defensive efficiency from wire to wire.

It was a remarkable display. You can discredit Golden State for failing to communicate properly defensively; they were a step slow in most rotations and were caught off guard by the onslaught. We’re not taking anything away from Houston’s poise, panache and accuracy when we point to typically on-point GSW defenders like Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Festus Ezeli and even the “you had one job”-Andrew Bogut for failing to move their feet and stay on the ready.

You still have to hit the shots, though. And Houston hit all of the shots.

The Rockets nailed 8-9 three-pointers in the first quarter, and 17-22 overall. All facets were tested – Houston scored ably in transition, especially well in delayed transition, and on contested shots in the half-court. Jason Terry didn’t miss. Dwight Howard didn’t miss. Josh Smith didn’t miss. Pablo bleedin’ Prigioni didn’t miss. James Harden, at 2-4 shooting, was Houston’s first quarter offensive millstone.

He made up for it in the second half, as Golden State attempted to trim the edges and make a game of it. Harden scored 33 of his 45 points over the final 24 minutes as he almost single-handedly kept the W’s at arm’s length. If Harden took his Game 3 failings personally, it showed – the man scored 45 points in Game 4 with nine rebounds, five assists, two steals, two blocks and only three turnovers despite his massive usage. The entire repertoire was on display.

Golden State just couldn’t match Houston’s immediacy. Draymond Green managed a fantastic box score line with 21 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks and four assists, but he was shockingly caught off guard defensively at times as Houston hoisted away. GSW’s relied-upon scorers – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes – weren’t terrible, but they weren’t tilting the court as has been a collective custom. The triptych combined for 61 points on 52 shots. Not bad, but not enough to close out.We’re working in the Western Conference, here, where Houston had to claw its way toward the second seed despite playing in a hellacious division while missing center Dwight Howard for half a season. One could classify this as the first step toward a 4-1 Golden State “gentleman’s sweep” of the Rockets had Houston not acted so rudely to the rest of the NBA throughout the year – this was a championship contender from the start of the season, one ill-suited to the 0-3 tag that dogged it as the squad entered Game 4.

The entrance was the thing, well before the Rox torched Golden State in a 128-115 win. Houston put up an astonishing 45 points against the Warriors in the first quarter, a mark that would have been worth a laurel and hearty handshake even against a listless Toronto or Brooklyn squad in the first round. Instead, these points came against a Warriors squad that nearly led the NBA in defensive efficiency from wire to wire.

It was a remarkable display. You can discredit Golden State for failing to communicate properly defensively; they were a step slow in most rotations and were caught off guard by the onslaught. We’re not taking anything away from Houston’s poise, panache and accuracy when we point to typically on-point GSW defenders like Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Festus Ezeli and even the “you had one job”-Andrew Bogut for failing to move their feet and stay on the ready.

You still have to hit the shots, though. And Houston hit all of the shots.

The Rockets nailed 8-9 three-pointers in the first quarter, and 17-22 overall. All facets were tested – Houston scored ably in transition, especially well in delayed transition, and on contested shots in the half-court. Jason Terry didn’t miss. Dwight Howard didn’t miss. Josh Smith didn’t miss. Pablo bleedin’ Prigioni didn’t miss. James Harden, at 2-4 shooting, was Houston’s first quarter offensive millstone.

He made up for it in the second half, as Golden State attempted to trim the edges and make a game of it. Harden scored 33 of his 45 points over the final 24 minutes as he almost single-handedly kept the W’s at arm’s length. If Harden took his Game 3 failings personally, it showed – the man scored 45 points in Game 4 with nine rebounds, five assists, two steals, two blocks and only three turnovers despite his massive usage. The entire repertoire was on display.

Golden State just couldn’t match Houston’s immediacy. Draymond Green managed a fantastic box score line with 21 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks and four assists, but he was shockingly caught off guard defensively at times as Houston hoisted away. GSW’s relied-upon scorers – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes – weren’t terrible, but they weren’t tilting the court as has been a collective custom. The triptych combined for 61 points on 52 shots. Not bad, but not enough to close out.None of us want Dwight Howard to be suspended. Nobody, even Golden State fans, is below defending Andrew Bogut’s tactics at this point in his career – he may not be dirty (or, hell, he might be), but he sure does play the physical heel to perfection. Compared with Al Horford’s ejection, compared with Zach Randolph’s 2014 Game 7 suspension, and compared with the letter of the NBA law (in place for two decades now) regarding what your hand looks like when it lashes out and where it lands: Dwight Howard should be suspended for Game 5.

The cynic (here he comes again) can point to the NBA’s preference regarding America’s fourth-largest city and the league’s most famous big man. The appalling optimist can hope that Rod Thorn, who was setting up NBA punishment protocol during the George H.W. Bush administration, is thinking on his feet at age 74 and possibly using some “yeah, but Bogut’s a jerk”-nuance. Either way, we get Dwight Howard in Game 5.

Howard acted as Houston’s lone big for most of Houston’s lone win in this series, as Rockets coach Kevin McHale went away from reserve rookie Clint Capella for most of the game while using Howard’s ability to finish lobs to act as more threat than menace. Terrence Jones worked as Howard’s main reserve, though they shared the court in a few instances, and that figures to hold up in Game 5.

Houston is either in with Howard at the rim, or out with the rest of the team save for two pretty James Harden step-back 18-footers. We’re just glad Dwight is around, despite the letter of the law, and despite the precedent that already frustrated both Atlanta and Memphis.

He’ll have to follow through on his good fortune if Houston wants to play this weekend. He doesn’t have to work McHale-styled magic in the low post, but he has to set sound screens and keep Houston’s floor-spacing alive.

Houston’s Human Nature

Apparently free from pressure, the Rockets worked toward those 45 first quarter points and 128 total digits on a series of practice jumpers. They were the sort of looks that you see 33 percent in-game three-point shooters nail nine out of ten times in practice and/or shootaround. Houston didn’t play this free and easy even when attempting and eventually succeeding in returning from a 3-1 deficit to down the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round. It was a remarkable display.

How this carries over into Oakland is entirely up to the Rockets. Golden State is aware that its defensive misgivings allowed for far too many good looks for Houston early in a possession and especially off of delayed transition, but though Houston is known for its three-point adherence it still managed to surprise the W’s with a series of shots that Golden State simply did not expect them to take with the season on the line, and with 19 seconds left on the shot clock.

That has to keep up. The Rockets can’t faff about, but they have to continue to throw caution to the win and match that talent and touch with derring-do.

Golden State’s Human Nature

To say that the Warriors haven’t been challenged is a bit of a joke. The team had all eyes on it as the fair weather fans wary of perimeter-based (their words, not mine) pro ball wondered if its “style of play” (read: really good defense, really good offense) would translate to postseason play.

It dismissed the New Orleans Pelicans and slowly worked its way toward an end game against the West’s longtime cad in the Memphis Grizzlies. Those with short memories might expect championship hopefuls to put the figurative boot to the throat of an opponent while up 3-0, but this year’s West (and last year’s, and the year before, and most years health-willing) just doesn’t lend itself to that easy narrative.

The trick here is avoiding the Kevin Garnett-styled burnout. Houston (unless it falls apart unexpectedly, fat and sassy with the Game 4 win) won’t go away easily, and the Warriors cannot mentally exhaust themselves by the six minute mark of the second quarter. Steve Kerr is still technically a rookie coach, but he truly has seen it all – from NCAA chaos to the heights of the NBA to underachieving teams full of louts to the lottery. He’ll have his group ready to play 48 minutes.

Against a game competitor like Houston, however, that might not be enough.

Keywords
Rockets
 | 
Sport
 | 
Game
 | 
Comments

Name:
Email:
Comments:
Send Comment
Email:
Email:
Comments:
Send
چاپارک
All rights reserved for "Jam News"