Rockets: Austin Rivers talks potentially facing Nikola Jokic without a center

Houston Rockets Austin Rivers (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Austin Rivers (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets are again trying to re-invent the wheel by going from small ball to micro ball, which Austin Rivers recently spoke about on his podcast.

Once again, Mike D’Antoni appears to be at the forefront of a charge to evolve the game. By essentially removing the center position from his Houston Rockets, he’s banking on speed and offensive firepower over size and efficiency. Austin Rivers recently shared his thoughts on the revolutionary approach to the game.

On his podcast Go Off, Austin had Dallas Mavericks guard Seth Curry as his guest, who chimed in on what the Rockets were doing before the coronavirus forced the season to shut down. “I totally forgot you guys just threw the center position out the window,” said Curry.

“I’m literally down there boxing out JaVale McGee and it’s just like, I don’t even know what I’m doing down here, bro,” Rivers replied. While the adjustments have been tough, Austin says the Rockets have been finding ways to get it done.

“We figure it out, but each game is different. You could beat anybody in one game. The first time we played small ball, we played the Lakers and beat them. Then we lost three or four in a row, so everybody was like, is this not working?”

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As the conversation continued, both Curry and Rivers agreed that the playoffs are a different animal when it comes to being successful. “That’s why we needed the playoffs,” stated Curry. “I want to see how that’s going to work. Because y’all are playing good basketball — I want to see what happens in the playoffs.”

“I think right now, we’re matched up with the Nuggets,” said Rivers. “We have to play Jokic for a five, six, seven-game series. Playing against somebody like that, I wonder how it would fare for him or us. It’s either going to work really well or it’s not going to work.”

The Rockets and Nuggets completed their season series before the NBA’s shutdown, splitting all four games at two apiece. All four matchups came before the Rockets traded away Clint Capela, however, so a playoff matchup would be the first time the micro ball Rockets faced Denver.

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While adjusting to not playing any bigs has been difficult, Rivers thinks his team will be just fine. “I believe it’s going to work. I have faith in our coach and system, but it’ll be crazy,” said Rivers.