A second loss and a fall to 0-2 in the series for the Houston Rockets will mean the end of it. Yes, they can win and draw it out a little longer at home, but the difference between them and the Oklahoma City Thunder seems to be too big, especially when they play the kind of basketball that lets James Harden do whatever he wants, while Jeremy Lin and the rest of his teammates are relegated to mere pawns on the court.
Scott Brooks was often heralded for the work he did with the Thunder for the first few seasons, until the NBA finals against the Miami Heat came along. He failed to do a single adjustment that worked, and his players caved with him. On the defensive end it was the small-ball that kept killing his team, with Kendrick Perkins staying on the court as the big man instead of Serge Ibaka, while the combination of them both led to embarrassing defensive possessions.
On the offensive end, it was his inability (and still is) to curb Russell Westbrook and James Harden, who handled the ball during their time on the court, making terrible and often selfish decisions in the game handling. Harden has taken his abilities South to the state of Texas and immediately became the face of the Houston Rockets. ‘Fear the Beard‘ the logo said. Well, his success has gone to his head, and like with the Thunder, there’s no real coaching authority to try and turn this chain of events which isn’t heading in a good direction.
When Harden says after a game that it felt like one against five out there, kinda throwing his teammates under the bus, it means something is wrong. While everyone was talking about how badly they played, Harden felt like he didn’t get the kind of help he should have. Players who don’t share the ball and keep running into brick walls don’t get help.
The answer to the question regarding Jeremy Lin’s “eliteness” won’t be answered in this postseason, and by the looks of it, not while Harden is playing next to him. Lin isn’t going to be Russell Westbrook in terms of scoring on a consistent basis. He isn’t athletic enough or talented enough to be a 22-23 points per game point guard for an entire season. But in shorts bursts? Sure, as long as he doesn’t have to play like a shooting guard offensively.
The Rockets worked around Lin’s problem on defense by putting him on Thabo Sefolosha. Minor damage, but the man-to-man assignments won’t matter if the Rockets help the Thunder enter transition offense each time they have the ball. Jeremy Lin needs to take control, now, before Patrick Beverley continues eating away his minutes. Beverley plays a more hectic style, and more aggressive in going to the basket, but it doesn’t give the Rockets the kind of different look they need to change into in order to get something out of this series.
The problem? Lin is dependent on what McHale decides regarding Harden. From what we’ve learned so far, it just means continuing to ask for Harden to try and do everything, which he wouldn’t mind, but it won’t be doing his team any good.