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Rockets-Spurs 2017: Ryan Anderson should come off the bench

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Either Anderson or Clint Capela have to be on the court at all times after Nene’s injury.

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Expect the announcement during or after shootaround in San Antonio today. Ryan Anderson will come off the bench for the Houston Rockets.

He said it himself today. He has to.

Nene’s injury literally halves Houston’s two-man center rotation, traditionally composed of the Brazilian and Clint Capela. Without Nene Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni has to improvise.

And more likely than not, he’s going to downshift.

Houston’s offensive-minded coach is notoriously stingy with playoff minutes. Every Rocket has touched the court in the second round, but that’s a product of blowouts, not a change for the coach. In reality, D’Antoni hasn’t strayed from his eight-man rotation.

The only way to preserve the rotation is for D’Antoni to man the center position with Capela or Anderson for 48 minutes. San Antonio’s rotation of LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol and David Lee mean one of the two must be on the floor at all times to contest rebounds.

Eric Gordon will move to the starting line up and Anderson will fill the offensive production on the second unit, which has been integral to both of Houston’s wins in the second round series.

With the exception of a brutal Game 3, which also befell Gordon and Lou Williams, Anderson is having a solid series:

  • Game 1: 35 min. 14 points. 6 rebounds. 4-12 FG. 4-10 3FG.
  • Game 2: 35 min. 18 points. 8 rebounds. 7-9 FG. 4-5 3FG.
  • Game 3: 29 min. 2 points. 1 rebound. 0-4 FG. 0-4 3FG.
  • Game 4: 31 min. 13 points. 4 rebounds. 5-11 FG. 3-7 3FG.

Anderson’s anticipated appearance in the second unit is also a product of Montrezl Harrell’s inability to contend with San Antonio’s big men. Harrell’s an impressive athlete, but in this serie,s he’s not a “switch everything, pick-and-roll monster.” Unfortunately he’s an “undersized power forward who can’t contest rebounds against men 10 or more years his senior.”

San Antonio has sniffed out a lot of Capela’s pick-and-roll dunks. Bodying him away from Harden’s passes or forcing Harden to throw passes too high or a bit behind the Swiss leaper. And if the Spurs have been effective at cutting off Capela, there’s limited hope for Harrell in those roll situations.

Ryan Anderson isn’t going to roll to the basket, but he’ll provide firepower and draw a Spur big man out to the three point line.

It’s not his fault he’s going to start the game on the bench, but it’s the only way to ensure Houston isn’t entirely ceding the rebounding battle and has a body big enough to deal with the Aldridge-Gasol-Lee trio.