The other day, I read this insightful piece by Matt Moore (better known as Hardwood Paroxysm on Twitter) in which he wrote about how coaches don’t like to make major adjustments in the playoffs because the ramifications can be catastrophic if changes don’t work. For example, benching a player in one game might mean that he’ll mentally check out and won’t be ready to play again. Or a new defensive rotation might cause players to question themselves and lose confidence. So while fans clamor for coaches to make big changes after losses, it’s usually not in the team’s best interest to overhaul a lot.
That brings me to Houston’s Game 1 performance against the Los Angeles Lakers. Going into the game, just as it will be against every team, the story was “Houston’s small ball lineup vs. LA’s bigs.” Everyone figured that the series would hinge on which team had to adjust first.
It was always going to be the Lakers.
You see, Houston can’t adjust. They traded away their only playable center in Clint Capela. They aren’t suddenly going to play Tyson Chandler 30+ minutes a night. It’s not happening. Houston is all-in on small ball. That is their identity. There is no Option B. If Houston loses Game 2, Mike D’Antoni is not going to return to the locker room and say, “I wish we still had a 7-footer.” He’s going to say, “We have to figure out a way to deal with the problem.”
There’s a general peace of mind in knowing that the Rockets as a team won’t panic after a loss. They know what they are. They know what it takes. There’s a real chance that the Lakers win the next four games just like they did after losing Game 1 to Portland.
But Houston will still be Houston.
Tip-off is at 7:30pm CT on ABC