Tag: Houston Rockets

Did Milwaukee discover the key to beating Golden State?

The Milwaukee Bucks may have discovered the key game plan to beating the Golden State Warriors as the season moves into 2016.

The Warriors epic win streak came to an end this week at 28 when they dropped a 108-95 decision to the Milwaukee Bucks.  While this may have seemed shocking at first, in retrospect, we should have seen it coming.

Milwaukee was off to a slow start (9-15 at the time), their identity remains a high energy, defense-first team that features a variety of players with great length who look to disrupt passing lanes and force mistakes.  Meanwhile the Warriors were still working through injuries and coming off a double-overtime victory the night before.

The one thing that always holds true in the NBA is that a tired team can’t possibly keep pace with a fresh team, no matter how much more talent they put on the floor.  The Warriors weren’t destined to lose to a better or equal squad like San Antonio or Cleveland – they were liable to lose that first game to health and fatigue, no matter the opponent.

Then again, the Warriors circled last night’s rematch on their calendar immediately, hyping the game as revenge for the Bucks “lack of class” in celebrating their win.  The Warriors got their revenge…sort of but still had to fight for the victory.  Milwaukee is obviously not a good a match up for Golden State and while they lack the talent to seriously challenge the Warriors, they do present a model for how to frustrate Golden State and make them work.

Keep an eye on this moving forward.

THE INDISPENSABLE 10

Power Rankings For Players!

(Last week’s ranking in parentheses)

  1.  Steph Curry, G (GS) (1) – Still way out in front.

T-2.  LeBron James, F (CLE) (2) – Wait ‘til Kyrie gets back full swing – that will be something to see.

T-2.  Kawhi Leonard, F (SA) (3) – Much closer to the Warriors than people think.

  1.  Paul George, G (IND) (5) – He’d be leading the MVP race if it weren’t for Curry.
  1.  Russell Westbrook, G (OKC) (4) – Inching closer.
  1.  Jimmy Butler, G (CHI) (8) – Just getting better.
  1.  Kyle Lowry, G (TOR) (6) – Statistically, only Curry and Westbrook are better 1 guards right now.
  1.  Kevin Durant, F (OKC) (7) – Hard to leave him off.
  1.  Andre Drummond, C (DET) (–) – The stuff he did this week is stuff NO ONE else is doing.
  1.  Chris Paul, G (LAC) (–) – Upping his game.

 

NBA PIPELINE

What’s the hot rumor this week?

Two big names are floating around the ether this week:  the Rockets’ Dwight Howard and the Bulls’ Derrick Rose.  Now, there’s one very big reason neither of these guys will move this season:  money.  No one’s going to want to pay Dwight Howard tens of millions of dollars to play 50 games and average 12 points a night, and at 33 years old, Howard has long past the point where he will “develop” an offensive game.”  That said, Dwight Howard remains a matchup problem for lots of teams as he’s still an excellent rebounder and rim protector, and is hardly a bust in the middle.  You could do worse, FAR worse, than Dwight Howard and for that reason I believe he will have no problem finding a new situation as long as his financial expectations are reasonable.

Rose presents a much different picture.  Right now, Derrick Rose is about 10 spots above being the worst player in the NBA.  It’s almost unimaginable, but the former MVP has been just awful this year.

Looking for perspective?

Remember how bad Kobe was leading up to his retirement announcement?

Rose is that kind of bad. Worse, in fact.  And Rose is due to make a fortune over the next two years.  Would some team, any team, be willing to pay that kind of scratch on the chance that Rose will regain his past glory after all of the damage injury has done to his career.  I seriously doubt it, and that means you may see Derrick Rose playing either limited minutes or (imagine this) coming off the bench next season for Chicago while they reshape their offense around Jimmy Butler and others.  None of this is Rose’s fault but the fact he’s a liability is one Chicago will be dealing with all season.

 

N-B-HEY!

Observations and opinions on this week’s action

“It is a big win for those young guys in the locker room, the time they put in for these 25 games and the effort from start to finish. You can say the crowd was off the charts, too.” – Bucks coach Jason Kidd, on his team snapping the Warriors unbeaten streak.

“I didn’t really want to look up at the basket when the ball left his hands. . .It would have been extremely deflating to lose a game that way.” – Knicks coach Derek Fisher, essentially admitting he was “too scared to watch” Damian Lillard’s last second 3 point attempt, which would have stolen the game for Portland.

“Monta is at a point now where scoring 25 points a night isn’t the most important thing,  winning every night is.  I love that he’s all about winning right now.” – Pacers coach Frank Vogel, praising Monta Ellis’ team first approach.

“I already know what the headlines are going to say, ‘Kobe turned back the hands of time.’  I didn’t think he had enough legs to do it, but it’s pretty cool. We got to see the old guy still has the legs a little bit.” – Rockets C Dwight Howard, on Kobe Bryant’s first dunk of the season.

“We’re trying to prove ourselves night in and night out.  A four-overtime battle like this and come out with a win?  I think we’re trying to make statements.” – Pistons G Reggie Jackson, on Detroit’s epic battle with the Chicago Bulls.

“They scored 70 points in the first half, and that’s not who we are. We made the point that we were very public about the fact that we wanted to get revenge, but then we didn’t come out and play with that edge and that mentality.  If you’re going to say that about another team, the other team is not just going to fold because you say it.” – Warriors interim coach Luke Walton, on Milwaukee hanging tough against Golden State in the rematch.

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Hoop Memes: ‘I hate the way the Rockets play’

That didn’t take long — Houston coach Kevin McHale was fired this week in response to a very poor start by the Rockets.  What’s the deal in Houston?  It seems McHale had lost the locker room, but it’s hard to imagine that that happened this quickly.  If McHale did lose the players, then they had to be part of the way gone before they ever took the floor this season.

From my vantage point, I like the way the Rockets are built, but hate the way they play.  The Rockets system reminds me of the NFL’s “wide-nine” defense which is predicated on exploiting a stat (in this case, a couple of them) that translates to wins.

But it ignores the reality that a team that is winning is putting up good stats in a variety of ways.

In other words:  the winning atmosphere and execution results in the stats, not the other way around.  Artificially manipulating certain stat categories has never been a good way to build a winner.  McHale or no McHale, it’s a lesson the Rockets need to learn.

THE INDISPENSABLE 10

Power Rankings For Players!

(Last week’s ranking in parentheses)

  1.  Steph Curry, G (GS) (1) – They may never lose the way he’s playing.
  1.  LeBron James, F (CLE) (2) – He’s now as good a leader as a player.
  1.  Russell Westbrook, G (OKC) (4) – Putting up ungodly numbers
  1.  Jimmy Butler, G (CHI) (6) – He’s the reason Rose may be expendable
  1.  Blake Griffin, F (LAC) (3) – Needs to mature as a player to take the next step.
  1.  Chris Bosh, F (MIA) (7) – Still being overlooked, as everyone is marveling over Hassan Whiteside.
  1.  Paul George, G (IND) (10) – Guess he’s over that injury, eh?
  1.  Kawhi Leonard, F (SA) (–) – Should we start calling him the “Little Fundamental?”
  1.  Paul Milsap, F (ATL) (–) – Who says the Hawks don’t have any stars?
  1.  Dirk Nowitzki, F (DAL) (–) – Who says he’s too old?

NBA PIPELINE

What’s the hot rumor this week?

Success is fleeting, and however good the Warriors look right now, it might not last past this season.  That’s because SF Harrison Barnes, a crucial albeit underrated member of the starting five, has already turned down a contract extension to test the waters as a restricted free agent this offseason.

Perhaps Barnes’ abilities will be overshadowed enough by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson to keep him affordable, but the versatile forward would be a great fit on a lot of teams looking for that last piece to take the step to the next level, and if Barnes gets offered a big deal, the Warriors probably won’t be able to match it.

N-B-HEY!

Observations and opinions on this week’s action

“It’s unbelievable.  All my prayers go to the families of the victims. It’s tough.  It helped me to think about something else.  For the past 24 hours, I’ve just spent my time calling family and friends to make sure they’re OK.” – French native Tony Parker, on playing after learning of the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night.

“That was great.  I appreciate that from the NBA. It shows that we’re together.” – Jazz C and French national Rudy Gobert, expressing appreciation at the pregame acknowledgment of the attacks in Paris.

“You’re not going to win any basketball games with 27 turnovers.” – 76ers coach Brett Brown.  His team has won 0 basketball games this season.

“It’s still a learning process for him but tonight was a big game, a big way to step up and take control of the game offensively, knock down shots, be aggressive out there, and I’m pretty sure it’ll be the first of many.” – Knicks F Carmelo Anthony, on rookie Kristaps Porzingis remarkable development.  Not to be lost here is the fact that Carmelo has obviously matured and grown as a player and team leader.  He’s obviously enthused about being part of a winning team, and not just the star or scorer who’s in the spotlight.

“I wouldn’t call this a rivalry.  They’re the better team.  They have the upper hand.” – Clippers F Blake Griffin, after the Warriors came back from 23 points down to beat the Clippers in Los Angeles 124-117.
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