(Since there hasn't been one thrown up on the main board, I guess I'll take the honors of writing one.)
It's the pre-season, and game 1 of the pre-season for that matter, where starters played few minutes, so the result is not quite as meaningful, but mostly the focus is on how the team generally did. And in this one, the story is generally positive for the Rockets.
Generally Theme : the Starters did well, the reserve did not, primarily due to the complete lack of a backup center that caused them to cough up so many points.
Systems outlook : in this period, the results matter a lot less than the takeaway in terms of individual games and perhaps more importantly, team system on both ends of the floor, from this game we can gleam several things into how the Rockets want to play this year.
1. They'll still play extremely fast : There appears to be a general thought process that because we got Dwight we'll surely slow down , maybe even by a lot, his Orlando team were always on the lower half of pace when Dwight was there, so it seems that people just assume that would also Happen in Houston.
Well, if the first game was any indication, that turns out to be quite wrong, the final score should have already told you that the pace was fast, and indeed it was, the Rockets like last year still ran the break as often as they could.
2.There is a noticeable change in defensive scheme : last year when Rockets guards / wings got hit with screens, they went under it more often than not , it was probably by design as Kevin McHale had said in interview that their goal was the pack the paint, this however, resulted in a lot of open shots given up.
So far in game 1 however, there is a dramatic change to that approach, as almost every single time a screen was set, the Rockets attempted to fight over it and contest the shot instead. essentially daring the Pelicans to challenge Howard. This worked very well .......... when Howard as on the floor...... it turned into a bit of a disaster when he left.
3. Postups are going to be a significant part of the half court set: When the Rockets did get into a half court set, Dwight Howard got touches almost every time one way or another, this was a major weak point in the Rockets other wise amazing offensive game last year, So far the early return is positive, with some caveat, Howard did very well with the ball, either scoring over double teams or creating big openings on cuts or shots, However, getting the ball to Howard proved to be a bit more tricky, as Lin / Harden / Parsons all messed up several post entry pass. that's clearly something they need to work on before they can really go to this in the regular season, especially in clutch situations.
On individual players.
The Good : he ran a lot of off ball cuts this game, something he didn't do a whole lot last year, given his role in this offense this year that seems to be a good idea, he was generally quite successful in those cut attempts. including some pretty reverse layups. His shot looks cleaner, and the one he hit was nothing but net, I thought I saw 3 attempt but the boxscore say 2, so maybe he stepped on the line again for one of them or there was a call somewhere.
The bad : post entry pass to Dwight was iffy at best, on the bright side everyone else was just about as bad.
The ugly : travel call after catch, this seems familiar....
The good : showed CONSIDERABLY greater effort on defense, had a pretty block and closed hard on a wide open guy, and fought over screen, I hope this is still the case late into a regular season game, if it is, we're in great great shape. Offensive game remain very sharp.
The bad : see Jeremy Lin, same issue, all had trouble throwing a decent entry pass to Dwight.
The ugly : nothing in particular. I guess there was a side step 18 footer that made me cringe a bit.
The good : his hair, obviously, well and generally played well. he didn't really stand out that much this game but was his generally effective self. there was a gorgeous cut he had off a Dwight double that we're so use to seeing from him.
The bad : see the previous 2 guys, same problem, he had a couple of turn over on post entry pass to Dwight as well.
The ugly : well there's obviously nothing ugly with Parsons ;)
The good : he passed the ball quite well, the ball movement with him and the first team was tremendous , he also defended a lot better than last year, though that's not saying much.
The bad : most other things, had 2 brilliant post move but can't finish, got torched by Davis after the first team left (can't blame him too much , but still.) still falling around like Yao / Shawn Bradley, while he did show better defense there were also some blatant over hedging that lead to wide open shots.
The ugly : air balling a corner 3, which might have counted as an assist as the ball fell right into Dwight's hand and he dunked it, not sure if I should laugh or cry on that play.
The good : dominated in the post, got double teamed all the time and either fought through it or made good passes, clearly was just toying with the Pelican defense . defended like a monster, and even made 64% of free throws!!!, there's not a whole lot more than say that he pretty much did everything you wanted him to.
The bad : chemistry with Lin / Harden / Parsons still needs work, as noted the post entry pass was pretty crappy and there were a couple of failed alley oops as well, the two sides haven't gotten their timing down with together yet clearly.
The ugly : the technical fouls, while the new delay of game thing is a bit silly , he needs to known that and adjust, the personal tech for laughing is pretty over the top on the ref's part,i think my feeling on those calls can be summed up by Larry Sanders here....
The Awesome : destroying Jrue Holiday, obviously. that was probably the most awesome / embarrassing sequence by any NBA PG in a while, even if it was only a pre-season game, though the folks at CBS's eye on basketball pod does point out that Beverley's putting a pretty big target on his back going into the season.
The good : His floater was good and he had an absurdly high FG% that game, though it does get to the part of why he need it...
The bad : his attack on half court situation remains questionable, there was the whole penetrating dribble to nowhere, and not being able to get close enough to the paint for a layup. it's unlikely that his floater will fall all the time, so he really needs to do a better job of breaking down defense . he doesn't HAVE to for his current role, but in the longer run if he's to work out as a longer term starting PG on a normal NBA team that has to happen.
the ugly : Monty William before the game : our matchup advantage is at PG, hahahahhaah
The good : aggressive on the attack, offensive game is still questionable overall but certainly with that aggressiveness and physicality it can work more often than not.
The bad : defensively while we were all mesmerized by his blocks last year, his positioning remains somewhat suspect, while not QUITE as obvious as Dmo 's hedge it clearly isn't at the point where he's a plus positioning defender. he'll have to make it up with his physical ability. also, even though he made 1 out of 2 3s, suffice to say it felt more lucky than good.
The ugly : trying to play center , I think I've heard somewhere (either here or elsewhere) of folks suggesting Jones can be a backup C....... please .......... stop......... reassess....... and realize your crazy. Even Greg Smith did a much better job last year than Jone's embarrassing attempt against a not so good offensive team.
The Good: he was on god mode ......errr or should i say El Shaddai (god almighty in Hebrew) mode? he hit 9 strait shot and was the only guy outside of Jones on that second team that could do anything in the half court.
The bad : his dribbling looks very suspect. despite several fast break points he looked like he was about to lose the handle half the time.
The ugly : well, he did miss the last shot I guess.
Brooks was horrific, 4 turnover in the span of about 4 min, including twice stepping out of bounds. This from a seasoned vet is inexplicable, I had thought he was pretty safe but more games like that would certainly change the situation a bit.
Brewer was ok , defensively looked good and offensively terrible as we suspect, his Free throw is amazing.. I know his injury issue and all but wow. at his best he was a good cutter who can score in transition, but he was on the floor without either Lin or Harden in the game so there wasn't really a good fast break starter.
Canaan and Covington : both shot with confidence (but missed .) which is good, and both defended about what you expect from rookies (aka terrible.) Covington looked better and got more minutes, including a last second put back dunk to end the game.
So basically that's the game, we probably shouldn't overreact to 1 game but obviously it 's good to see the starters generally do well, and the second team should hopefully do better once Asik gets back, without Asik we simply won't get to see perhaps one of the biggest question, what a Asik / Dwight lineup would look like. hopefully we'll get to see that this week.