As rotations begin to shrink with the playoffs looming, Mike D’Antoni would be wise to have these four Houston Rockets on the floor as often as possible.
When it comes to being an active general manager, Daryl Morey’s involvement is unmatched. The blockbuster trade the Houston Rockets made for Russell Westbrook turned out to be just the first rock in an avalanche of moves to improve the team this season.
The Rockets have officially made eight transactions since January 7th to get their roster to where it is today, with their planned travel to the Orlando bubble happening on July 9th. Houston had a limited time with their desired lineups before the NBA shutdown, as their second-biggest acquisition this year, Robert Covington, only suited up for 14 games so far.
The 29-year-old forward has impressed in that short span, however, and has become one of the most important cogs in the Rockets machine as they look to make a deep playoff run. Covington’s versatility and impeccable shot-blocking timing have allowed Houston to get away with not playing anyone above 6-7 while also thriving on offense.
Not surprisingly, Robert is involved in the four-man lineup that makes the Rockets go from good to great.
The Lethal Houston Rockets Lineup
Anybody that’s been following Rockets basketball closely this season won’t be surprised by this fact, but Houston is at their best when they roll out James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Robert Covington and P.J. Tucker.
When on the floor together, this lineup has a defensive rating of 101.8 and an offensive rating of 111.1 for a net rating of +9.3 points per game. While there are other lineups that have a higher net rating, what sets this lineup apart is its effectiveness on defense.
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On The Lowe Post, Zach Lowe went into more detail about this lineup.
“Basically, whenever Harden, Westbrook, Covington and Tucker have been on the floor together — and you need Covington and Tucker together because you need their collective length on defense — the Rockets have been very, very good,” said Lowe.
In this scenario, the fifth man probably can be plugged in and out based on who might be playing well at the time, but as Lowe points out, Gordon would be the ideal fifth man here.
“Their best lineup is going to be Russ, Harden, Gordon, Tucker and Covington,” said Lowe. That group has barely played [together] — 45 minutes.”
In those 45 minutes, that lineup has a stellar defensive rating of 92.9 but just a 100.0 offensive rating. Much of that can probably be chalked up to the shooting woes of Eric Gordon, who hasn’t been healthy all season.
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With Gordon now at 100 percent, the eight remaining regular season games will be crucial for him to get in a shooting groove and complete Houston’s dynamic five. If he can increase his offensive efficiency even by a little bit, this lineup should be seeing the bulk of the minutes on the floor together as much as possible.