One thing that usually happens in the playoffs is team’s rotation getting shorter, and key players getting even more minutes than in the regular season. Jeremy Lin is a backup guard for the Houston Rockets, and although he can be very useful, he won’t be features as much compared to James Harden and Patrick Beverley, partially because Kevin McHale simply doesn’t believe in him.
The moment Beverley came back from his injury, Lin was sent to the bench. It might actually be better for his individual numbers because it might give him the chance to play without Harden next to him and make him a point guard for more than usual, but Harden is likely to play at least 40 minutes a night in the postseason (which begins with a series against the Portland Trail Blazers), so that doesn’t leave too many “point guard” minutes for others.
Beverley? He’s fine with that. He might be the size of a point guard, but his style is much more suited to be the second guard. He gets most of his possessions off of steals, and the rest is moving around screens and waiting for that moment James Harden gives up the ball and finds him. He’s fine with that – he’s much more suited for the spot-up lifestyle, and doesn’t contribute as much when playing as the guy who actually runs the show.
Jeremy Lin? Lin has been “stuck” in a role that’s not for him these last couple of seasons. He has shown from time to time an ability to adapt, but there have been plenty of moments when it just looks like this plan for him and the team isn’t going to work. Lin needs the ball in his hands to make himself better, but also to make the team better. There seem to be fewer minutes with him actually getting to call the shots, and it’s not going to get better in the playoffs, at least on an individual level.
Jeremy Lin isn’t a better scorer than James Harden, but is a better passer. And unlike the storyline the media sometimes tries to tell, he’s a better defender, or at least a lot more committed to his assignment on defense, which is something James Harden gives up way too many times, and that has been passed on to Chandler Parsons as well. Howard can be a beast in the paint and Beverley is more relentless than actually smart in the way he closes down. Not enough to make up for the holes Harden and Parsons create.
Don’t expect Lin to suddenly become more important in McHale’s eyes than Beverley, certainly not Harden, who is immune to benching or role changing. Jeremy Lin is often a bigger reason for a long run, comeback or even win than Harden, even if certain numbers like points or assists don’t show it (it’s hard beating Harden in that when the ball is only in his hands), but the smallest mistake usually gets him off the court. Lin, in his second postseason, has a chance to change people’s minds about him, but it’s not up to him, but to a coach who doesn’t like him and a player who doesn’t like sharing the spotlight.