Everyone is all-in on small ball, and it’s working
Just as important as having Rockets GM Daryl Morey and Mike D’Antoni on board with extreme small ball, the Houston Rockets roster has bought into the strategy as well. Watching them on the defensive end, in particular, has been a sight to behold compared to some earlier games this season.
Everyone knew what the team was giving up when they let Capela go east – a formidable post presence that could affect shots inside while also snatching down rebounds to get things going the opposite way. As such, everyone knew it would be up to the team as one unit to crash the boards and hold their own inside at the defensive end.
So far, Houston has been swarming defensively. Switching on almost everything and covering for each other, opponents have often seem confused as to how to attack the smaller Rockets.
Sometimes it seems like just lobbing the ball over the top to your 7-foot-1 center should allow him to feast over the likes of P.J. Tucker until Robert Covington comes out of nowhere and swats his attempt away.
Other times, starting your center on Russell and having him back off to protect the paint has seemed like a good idea until he blows past him for a tough finish or pass to an open corner three.
Everyone seems to have their specialized skills that are helping the team thrive, like a rag-tag group that suddenly becomes The Avengers when working together.
Guys like Ben McLemore and Tucker are lighting it up from the outside, Russell is getting to the basket more than anyone in the league since January 1st, Covington is hosting nightly block parties and James Harden is, well, doing everything.
While some fine-tuning still needs to be done in regard to allowing drives to the basket, the Rockets are still playing so efficient offensively that they’re getting away with it. The good news is they still have 25 games to work on some weak points, but the fact that they’re playing this well together so soon is certainly impressive.
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