So now that we lose back to back game for the first time this year, obviously we should call off the season and trade everyone, wait what?
It's gotten a bit too simplified to just whine about the twin tower lineup and McHale's short rotation that nothing is being viewed in terms of what's actually happening and what's working / improving / not working. It's sort of like last year when probably one of the largest fad was to whine about Delfino when after the season was over and we reexamine we realized that pretty much any lineup with Delfino in there dominated. So let's not get ahead of our self here. We blew the Clipper's game in the later half almost entirely using small lineups, clearly, there's a lot more going wrong than just the Twin Tower.
Here's what I'm seeing, scheme wise, it's easy to scream bad spacing and not actually look into what plays are being run by the rockets, but going back and looking at it more and more, there's an increased understanding of what they're trying to do on those plays, and why it probably will work when they can execute properly.
So what exactly IS the Rocket's trying to run offensively with that TT lineup? I see a few clear trend of what they're trying to do, and I think a lot of them are working / will work in time.
1. Load up on one end (usually left) and have one of Parsons or Beverley come off an Asik high screen for a 3.
This is one of the most commonly run play when the TT lineup is featured, amusingly, this is also the play the Clippers usually run to start off a lot of their half court set with Blake and DeAndre. you have either Harden or Howard with the ball and do this, and look to end up with a open Parsons / Beverley shot .
Hows it working? : it's working in terms of getting open, but they're blowing open shots, it doesn't help that Harden and Howard have both throw passes off line too much which causes those 2 to be off the mark, but Parsons have been very inconsistent from 3 so far this year regardless. But yeah, if your blowing open shots while JJ Redick is making his flying side ways on the exact same play, your going to lose. which really sums up the first quarter of both Clippers game with the TT tower, same play, different result due to execution.
2. A reverse pick and roll: this is an interesting play I've not recall seeing too often before but the Rockets are doing: this happens most between Howard and Beverley but also sometimes between Harden and Howard. what happens is they drive inside and hand it off to Howard, then instead of running outside they usually do, they stay at roughly the same spot (while their defender, usually assuming their man will run out to the 3 point line, heads off that way.) and set a pick against the opposing big guarding Howard, this usually create space for Howard to go into his jump hook or a fake to the basket. I think this play is to compensate for the Rocket's poor inlet passing and Howard getting killed by guard double team. it's very well thought out but again not very well executed yet.
Hows it working? : it's not seen that often but I think it's a 50/50 proposition so far, sometimes they do it flawlessly and create a huge opening for Dwight who now only has to beat a small guard who's trying to recover. but often time the pick isn't set fast enough and/or Howard starts too early and it all mess up.
From what I can see overall, the key so far is a lack of execution, the pass is often off just a bit to the shooters and the picks the chemistry between the guys are not there yet. Parsons and Beverley didn't have that many pick and roll type plays last year with Asik may be part of the reason, and Harden isn't use to that sort of play (while Howard's just not the best passer) is part of the problem as well, but these things seems like solvable issues.
Defensively have been the more interesting problem as they have been bad, but when you look at it, they are NOT getting between by opposing stretch 4s which was what we though was the problem, instead most of teams try to run some sort of high pick plays to keep both bigs out of the paint and the communication on switches have been terrible, again signs of bad chemistry more than bad scheme. Dwight and Asiks been trying to close out on shooters more these days. but still often forgets.
We had stretches in the later game against both team where pretty much the entire team was out of control and throwing it away like crazy, Lin especially has been a huge culprit in his otherwise very good start to the season. his decision making has been a lot better in half court situation, but strangely it's the transition situation, something he was very good at least year that's really messing up.
Suffice to said, the end conclusion is this team looks like it hasn't played enough together and that's pretty much the problem. they're getting beat by some crazy shots is part of the problem but they're also blowing too many easy plays (more than they're blowing hard plays, amusingly.) .
I think they'll be fine. we lost 2 games to a very very strong team and another to a team who was crazy hot and made a last minute shot. those things happen. see what they do for a couple months before jumping to conclusions.