Every game, if there will be more than one game, is a back-against-the-wall one for the Houston Rockets. James Harden will try to prove that the strategy of giving him the ball and hoping that something good comes of it finally works, while Jeremy Lin, although reality tells us otherwise, might get another shot at trying to prove to Kevin McHale that this season has been one huge mistake, and he can be of huge help to the team.
For Lin, this might be of even bigger consequence. The dry numbers, those that people look at without watching games or trying to understand the bigger picture. Aren’t that impressive. All that people see is his $8.3 million salary, and the numbers in the playoffs: 9 points, 4.5 assists while shooting 36.4% from the field. They see Patrick Beverly usurping his role in the starting lineup, and they figure Lin has been simply doing a terrible job.
But numbers don’t tell the story. The one about a good point guard who usually makes his team better when he’s on the floor. He might not be able to be consistent in his scoring or dominance, but what do you expect from a player who should be with shattered confidence by this point, thanks to a head coach that keeps demoting him and punishing him for every little mistake? Lin was still the team’s best player in the single playoff win so far, coming up big in the fourth quarter and overtime of that game 3.
But his one mistake – a turnover at the end of game 4 that allowed the Blazers to tie the game and send it into overtime resulted in his benching for the entire final period. James Harden? He can shoot 25-30 times a night, while hitting only 35% of them, it won’t matter. His defense that is laughable at best for most of the night doesn’t get him benched or take the ball out of his hands. Nor is his selfishness on offense, and his late game mistakes and turnovers.
Lin might or might not be the team’s savior in someway. The answer to the mayhem on the floor when they’re with the ball in crunch time. But McHale and Morey have decided that he’ll be a spot up shooter, and are wasting away the best point guard they have. Daniels is a good shooter, nothing else. Patrick Beverley brings energy and sometimes can heat up, but he’s an overrated defender and is terrible when it comes to passing and actually being the floor general.
So the Rockets have left themselves with one option: Hoping that Harden has one of those days when most of his shots – taking contested jump shot one after the other, drops. Actually expecting for him to play differently is as the famous saying goes: Insanity is expecting to get different results by doing the same thing over and over again. Maybe there’s a chance they turn to Lin to save their season, but from what we’ve seen all through these last couple of years, it’s not going to happen.