Nov 11, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Johnson (7) drives the ball during the fourth quarter as Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) defends at Toyota Center. The Nets defeated the Rockets 106-98. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Rockets Game Day: Nets vs. Rockets
The last time these two ball clubs met both teams were trending in different directions while also coming off three days of rest. The Brooklyn Nets were still searching for their first win of the season while the Houston Rockets were winners of four straight. Whether it was rust or the Rockets completely over looking the Nets, Brooklyn walked out of Toyota Center that night with a win completely stunning the Houston crowd.
This time around the Rockets will be visiting the Barclays Center looking to extend their winning streak to four. Although record indicates the Nets to be one of the worst in the league (5-15) they have shown in the past month that they’re not a team to be slept on. Brooklyn has had notable wins against quality teams such as Atlanta, Boston, Detroit and Phoenix while losing to the Cavaliers by two points and taking the Golden State Warriors to overtime in Oakland.
Venue: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
Game Time: 7:30 PM EST – 6:30 PM CT
Radio: 790 AM, WCBS 880 AM
- November 11 – BKN 106 @ HOU 98
- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson – ankle, needs surgery
- Andrea Bargnani – hamstring, out for Tuesday
- Chris McCullough – knee Rotoworld says he may be out for entire season while CBS says he may be back in the New Year
- Sam Dekker – back, needs surgery
The Hollins Way
Offensively the Nets want to play at a methodical, hang around the basket type pace. This is a roster that lacks any depth in terms of being a threat from the perimeter but features a number of effective post up players.
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One of the most intriguing players in today’s league and a key component for this Nets team is wing/four man Thaddeus Young. Young is an eight year veteran out of Georgia Tech who thrives on scoring around the rim in a variety of ways. Being left handed, Young’s game can come off as a little unorthodox as the Nets love to throw him in post position against smaller wings or slower fours. By no means is Draymond Green a smaller or slower defender, the clip below just shows Young’s ability to finish around the rim pulling a great move on perhaps one of the league’s top three defenders.
Aside from working Young in the post, the Nets will more often than not look to work around big man Brook Lopez. Lopez is regarded by many as one of the top offensive centers in the league possessing a soft touch around the rim while having a formidable 10-15 ft. jumper. Brook also being 7’1 has made a living on second chance opportunities around the rim.
There isn’t much ball movement within this offense and very little spacing as well which is very rare to see nowadays. The Nets have stuck to an old school type offense pounding the ball in the post with very little shooting, which shouldn’t come as a surprise under head coach Lionel Hollins who developed the “Grit and Grind” identity in Memphis.
The little spacing can be attributed to Brooklyn’s emphasis on crashing the offensive boards. The Nets send three to crash the boards on almost every offensive field goal attempt averaging 10.9 a game (per teamrankings.com) with a wing hanging around the block, free throw line extended or around the elbow.
In the first match-up Brooklyn fell behind early because of the uptempo style the game was being played at. Because the Nets value the offensive board so much this may lead to plenty of transition opportunities for Houston if executed correctly. Brooklyn gives up 14.4 fast break points per game ranking them 24th in the league. Houston must dictate the flow of this game by pushing every chance they get with the use of the outlet pass.
Defensively the Nets are reluctant to switch on the perimeter and have paid the price by doing so, showing poor communication on off ball screens leading to wide open looks at the rim.
It would be wise for Houston to utilize Harden off the ball in a lot of curl action giving him a moving start towards the rim. The Nets are a help happy defense looking to clog the lanes as much as possible so shooters will be left open on the perimeter. James is at his best when going towards the rim not only as a finisher but also as a distributor. The Rockets have also shown improvement from beyond the arc shooting 41.4% in their last three outings.
Defending Brooklyn isn’t as daunting as Houston made it seem last time out and the line up change of Capela and Howard starting should cause some problems this time around. Brooklyn is dead last in the league in terms of three point shooting percentage at 29.6%. Clogging the paint and inviting them to drain it from deep is a strategy that the Rockets should implement as the Nets only have two players shooting above the league average from three (Jarret Jack shooting 35.1% and Shane Larkin shooting 50%).
Potential Let Down
Houston over the past few years has been known to play down to competition in situations such as these. The Rockets are finally playing with a sense of urgency and motivation behind a three game winning streak. Although a blow out win early so that the starters can rest for tomorrow’s game against Washington would be ideal, I’ve seen this let down one too many times. Houston sleep walks through the first three quarters and comes back late in the fourth squeezing one out by 2.
For more Rockets insight, check out our latest featured piece dissecting Houston’s offensive and defensive schemes.
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