Game 2 is in the books after the Rockets came up just short in a come-from-behind bid for victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
One more three pointer and all the headlines could be different.
The Dream Shake writers field four questions on Game 2:
|Final - 4.24.2013||1||2||3||4||Total|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||29||28||21||27||105|
1. Should Patrick Beverley start the remainder of the series (even if Lin is at full health)?
AK: YES. Beverley was a pain in Russell Westbrook's side all night and even though Russ ended up with 29, Beverley has the ability to take him out of his game. Plus, Westbrook is already volatile and Bev can get under anyone's skin. This isn't a commentary on Lin, who should also start if he's healthy.
MATT: YES. He clearly was able to bother Westbrook at times on Wednesday, who did score 29 points, but was only 10-26 from the floor and 1-7 from the 3-point line. Beverley was also extremely productive offensively and on the glass, and was the only guy to shoot better than 33% beyond the arc. If Lin comes back, go with Wednesday's small ball lineup with both guys on the floor.
MAX: YES. Patrick "Axel" Beverley brings a defensive tenacity nobody on the Rockets can match. He has to be on the court to defend Westbrook. Move Lin to the two guard and have him guard Thabo.
DAVID: YES, but only due to OKC's roster construction and matchup issues. Against most other teams, Beverley should be a backup. For example, just watch how Beverley becomes a focal point of the OKC defense in Game 3.
BD: YES. This is a red herring of a question. Starting Beverley even if Lin is healthy doesn't exclude Lin from anything. McHale needs a point guard who won't turn the ball over and will be tenacious and aggressive about his game. That's not Lin, not in this series at least. Beverley deserves the nod at the 1 and Lin can take the 2.
LEE: YES. Yes, right along side Lin if he can go. If he can't the question is a bit moot as there is no choice. I don't expect him to be quite as effective but if he can be we win game 3.
JESUS: YES. Yes: Patrick Beverly aka "The Mitten" for his pesky defending a la Gary Payton, has clearly earned a starter's spot for the remainder of this series even is Jeremy Lin plays. His aggressiveness and unwillingness to back down from a challenge was the difference maker in Game 2. Russell Westbrook still managed to score 29 points but he earned every single one of those points. Beverly was effective on both sides of the court and was the second leading rebounder not just for the Rockets but from both teams. Beverly stands 6'1 but jumps as if he has boosters in his shoes.
2. The difference between winning and losing game two is...
AK: EXPERIENCE. The Thunder had it and the Rockets didn't. You have to stay focused in these kinds of games, and the Rockets let it slip away while the Thunder picked their spots and controlled the flow late.
MATT: 4thQ SHOOTING. Making shots down the stretch. After taking a 95-91 lead with Delfino's 3-pointer, the Rockets missed their next four field goal attempts before Beverley hit that layup with 1 second left. If it wasn't for the referees being generous with Harden's free throw attempts, Houston wouldn't have scored a point for nearly three-and-a-half minutes. You can't do that and beat a team like the Thunder.
MAX: EXPERIENCE. For the second time in three games the Rockets collapsed on the the final offensive possession of the game coming out of a timeout. This play was an indicator of the lack of experience these Rockets have, both playoff experience and experience playing with one another.
DAVID: HERO BALL. Rockets took a 4 point lead and immediately started playing tight and holding onto the ball. Yes, Harden is really good about drawing fouls, but the team energy dies when he does this.
BD: POINT DIFFERENTIAL. If you're asking what the Rockets could have done better I would have to say rebounding. The Thunder pulled down boards the Rockets needed to get. Late in the game the Rockets shaped up about their rebounding game but when Patrick Beverley is your leader in boards for a while in the game you're not having the right kind of night.
LEE: CHANDLER PARSONS. Chandler Parsons 3 point brick fest in the fourth quarter. Had he made any of them the Rockets win. I really hate to blame it on him because his hustle was one of the main reason Houston got back into the game, but I kept waiting to hear the announcers go NBA Jam on us with "He can't buy a bucket!"
JESUS: EXPERIENCE. The Thunder showed what three years of postseason experience does for a young team. When Oklahoma needed a basket they went to their bread and butter Kevin Durant, but instead of forcing a shot he found Thabo Sefolosha for an open three (yes, we all saw Kendrick Perkins hold Chandler Parsons but we can't blame this game on the refs) then dished it to Serge Ibaka for a mid range jumper. Experience playing in big games sealed the win for the Thunder.
3. The Rockets biggest improvement is...
AK: FIGHT. They didn't fade away like in game 1. You have to love that this team came out after getting embarrassed and gave the Thunder a run for their money in their own building after being down by 15 at one point in the fourth quarter.
MATT: PHYSICALITY. Not only did the Rockets do a much better job defending Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka on Wednesday, but they went from a -7 rebound differential in game one to a +17 rebound differential in game two. If the Rockets had hit their 3-pointers (a miserable 29%), they would be coming home to Houston with home-court advantage the rest of the series.
MAX: INTENSITY. The nerves were gone. The Rockets played the offense they've played all season and refused to allow the Thunder to dictate the pace of the game. Omer Asik & Patrick Beverley were ready for a fight all night.
DAVID: ENERGY. The "deer in headlights" look of Game 1 across every player's face was replaced by a wee bit more determination and hustle. Parsons' first 5 minutes were a wonderful example of this (his last five minutes, well........).
BD: AGGRESSION. Ibaka was still punching shots but Beverley on the court was forcing the issue and making things happen. He angered Westbrook which took the ball away from Durant, always a good thing. Game 1 was a lethargic blowout, game 2 was an ultra-competitive fight between two young teams that like to run. We need more of that game 2 attitude.
LEE: AGGRESSION. The Rockets didn't take shit from anyone. They got their assess handed to them in game one and looked in awe of the Thunder at times. No such luck for OKC in game two. They stood toe to toe, or thigh to knee in Beverley's case, and didn't back down.
JESUS: INTENSITY. Houston got their nerves out of the way in Game 1 and came out of the gate ready to fight for a victory. Fighting for loose balls and not afraid to back down from the fight. Beverly will get much of the credit but every Rocket player took up the challenge, from Greg Smith getting a technical after throwing it down on Ibaka to Omer Asik exchanging pleasantries with Ibaka. Houston will have to bring that same intensity to a must-win Game 3.
4. Who should McHale add to his rotation?
AK: NO ONE. It went pretty well. I just don't see a place for D-Mo in this series. I could see Terrence Jones getting a little burn, but not much.
MATT: A SHOOTER. Anyone who can hit a 3-pointer. The Rockets are a pitiful 18-71 beyond the arc through two games, and one of their keys going into the series was hitting perimeter shots. Delfino has been particularly ineffective (5-17), so I would consider giving Garcia more minutes or maybe giving Anderson a shot. I wouldn't mind seeing Terrence Jones either, as he's capable on defense and can spread the floor out a little, keeping Ibaka outside the paint on every play.
MAX: NO ONE. Beverley is McHale's major series tweak. It worked. The team now needs to execute and make shots. I wouldn't care if D-Mo or Garcia see limited minutes because they make the three pointers the Rockets are missing.
DAVID: MOTIEJUNAS. Delfino is an anchor in this series. Not in a good way. Delfino has actually been an overall "minus" player in the rotation since he hurt his elbow before the all-star break. Donuts can at least rebound and provide energy and be an "x" factor that Scott Brooks has no gameplan for. Plus, D-Mo's outside shooting is not that much of a drop off from Delfinos' recent (lack of) production.
BD: NO ONE. Adding anyone to the rotation won't make a difference, the Thunder are that much better. Maybe Dinosaur Motorcycles to help pull Ibaka out of the paint but at the end of the day, the Rockets weren't going to win this series and it's rearranging chairs on the Titanic to waste time talking about this idea.
LEE: MOTIEJUNAS. He can spread the floor and can't be any worse from the field than Delfino. And I'd rather see Thomas Robinson's athleticism out there than Greg Smith right now.
JESUS: ANDERSON & MOTIEJUNAS or T-JONES. Anderson grabbed some quality minutes at the end of the season and proved he can be a viable asset on the court. If Carlos Delfino keeps struggling (4-13 FG) Anderson should get a look. He can have his hands at guarding Durant and has the basketball IQ to make the right play. Motijuenas should get a look simply because he stretches the floor without giving up size. He can also run the floor for a quick transaction basket. Jones was mildly effective in Game 1 despite the fact he didn't fill up the score sheet.
Time for your answers. Give us your rapid fire responses in the comments:
- Should Patrick Beverley start the remainder of the series (even if Lin is at full health)?
- The difference between winning and losing game two is...
- The Rockets biggest improvement is...
- Who should McHale add to his rotation (if anyone)?