Saturday Morning Rockets and NBA Links

The biggest news, of course, is that the Rockets' home opener is tonight. Our conquering heroes (well, they conquered Oracle Arena, anyways) return to the Toyota Center for the first time since May. I envy all of you who will be there.

On that note: obviously the Rockets didn't play last night, so there's very little in the way of real Rockets news. However, the NBA rolls on.

For the first time in a while, your Rockets are tied for first place in the SW Division. That's thanks to the Bulls' 13-point upset over the Spurs on Thursday, and Basketball Prospectus gives us the breakdown on what happened. Amazingly, the Bulls dominated the offensive glass, something aided by Pops' refusal to put Blair in the game. Fred Silva at PTR gives us a Spurs fan's reaction to the game, including five reasons on why San Antonio lost. The best part?

1.)  15
This is another rough estimate, but 15 as in the 15 awful lineups that Pop threw onto the court.  I mean, awful like Noahs' disgusting face awful, (see above.)  This is my personal opinion, but was it just me or did everyone else notice that Pop's lineups were staggeringly awful.  I mean, if we are up by 20 against the Hornets at home, then feel free to throw in your ridiculous lineups, Pop.  But if we are down 15 with 8 to go in the fourth, how about you play our best 5 players and quit messing around?  All I wanted to see in the fourth was Parker, Ginobili, RJ, McDyess, and Duncan.  I realize it's the second game of a back to back, but no one played extended minutes against the Hornets because they sucked.  So why not try to win the game?  Why not?  Throw our best guys out there and if they do not make a push, then throw in the towel.  But at least give us a chance.  Pop's job is to put the team in the best position to win.  I feel he failed in that regard last night.  I realize he does not care about the regular season, but come on, man.  Alright, I am done ranting, for now.

I love it when Pops screws up.

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Ariza has an interesting take on his changing role in the NBA:

“It’s an adjustment,” Ariza said. “It’s a different style of basketball that I’m playing now. I’m going from being the fifth option to one of the main guys on the team. It’s taken a little while to adjust to it, but I’m happy to be in this situation.

“The best part about it is I can take shots, and if I take a bad shot, I’m not going to be yelled at. But the toughest part is probably having to take it all on my shoulders. It’s what people say pressure is.”

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Dave Berri noticed that Ty Lawson has been kicking ass in his first two games, asking if all the teams that passed on Lawson are feeling regrets yet. Lawson, along with Blair, was one of the statistical community's darlings going into the draft, and it doesn't surprise me that he has done well so far. Nevertheless, maybe we should back off on the prognostications.

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TrueHoop gives us an alternative to the current setup of the NBA Playoffs: a play-in, single elimination tournament in the style of March Madness. Basically, teams 8 - 15 would play for the final seed in the playoffs, hopefully eliminating some of the incentive to tank as the season moves on.

I like the idea, though I think nobody really cares about the play-in game in the NCAA tournament, knowing that the 64th seed is a guaranteed loss. That's not always the case in the NBA, though it's damn close. Moreover, the claim that it would eliminate the incentive to tank is bogus. The only way to do that is to stop rewarding bad teams with good draft picks.

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A lot of talk has gone into the Rockets being more of an "up-tempo" team this season, and so far that's borne out. They've gone from being the 19th-ranked team in pace last season to the eighth. Of course, that's only over the course of two games, but it's consistent with what Adelman, Morey, and others have been saying about this team.

Theoretically, faster-paced teams are better teams, right? More transition baskets means higher offensive efficiency, after all.

Carlos Chaloub at RaptorBlog.com has studied the relationship between pace and winning in this post. More specifically, he looked at the correlation between pace and defensive efficiency. What were his findings?

Except for 2005-2006, where the Phoenix Suns were the only fast-paced team, the fast-paced teams failed to beat the league average DRtg every single year. Of the 41 teams covered, only 19 (or 46%) played better defence than the league average.

So, what do we take away from this? It seems to me that playing conservative and slow allows your team to set itself in the half-court and defend 5-against-5. Running teams are prone to fast-breaks where points are accumulated easily by the opponent, and the hybrid (medium-paced) teams are not much better. In fact, of the 111 teams that played at a slow pace, 79 made the playoffs (71%), a very good percentage. In other words, only 81 teams out of 179 medium- and fast-paced teams made the playoffs (45%).

Good point. But do bad defensive teams gravitate towards fast-paced offensive systems because they need to maximize their offensive ability to compensate for that poor defense, or is it, as Chaloub suggests, purely a product of the system?

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Happy Halloween, everybody.

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