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October 27, 2020

Why the Houston Rockets small ball is a bust comes playoffs time

The Houston Rockets had a 9-2 record after they make a trade and put PJ Tucker being a center. With a lineup of Harden, Westbrook, Covington, and Tucker which Robert Covington only stands 6’7, Tucker is just a 6’5. They beat the opponent by a fast pace offense which Mike D Antoni specialty. But don’t get fooled by this record when it comes to the most important games of the season, the playoffs.

In postseason teams need to face each night at a maximum of seven games in two weeks. They will figure out each other, can get the right game plan and scouting report for each player. With playoff teams in Western Conference had an All-Star big man like Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert or Dallas Kristapz Porzingis. PJ Tucker is known for his grit defense which his bread and butter for his career. A bruiser who postponed himself from the perimeter and use his body to outmatched guys in the post. He didn’t give up on the loose ball, he fights for set screens and physicality. Tucker also space the floor in which James Harden and Russell Westbrook take advantage of the opening in the lane without shot blockers or both of them can kick out which Tucker is efficiently converted into his corner three.

The bad story for the Rockets is that big men aren’t standing to wait for the ball or just there to set screens and grab rebounds. Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers is the leading team scorer, he’s athletic and too big for Tucker. Facing him two games in three nights or four times a week could be a nightmare. The force of body you throw can tear Tucker’s body in a series. He’s too small with a half foot for Davis on the post plus the reach advantage. While Nikola Jokic is a primary playmaker for the Nuggets with a huge disparity in height. The big man starts his playmaking activities from the post which hard to figure out if he will score or pass. Nuggets had a lot of options in scoring either Jamaal Murray, Gary Harris, and Will Barton. Paul Millsap is another one who can create on his own. The Utah Jazz, on the other hand, big man Rudy Gobert isn’t a huge threat offensively but dominates small ball defensively. The Stifle tower even not a talented big man from the post can score at ease with a small guard. Donovan Mitchell a scorer and underrated as a playmaker. With a lot of shooters around him, the paint will be wide open for Mitchell that when help comes the lob pass is easy to catch for Rudy Gobert. While the Dallas Mavericks big man Kristapz Porzingis a talented in his position when healthy. In every part of the court, he can make a bucket. A 7’2 who can beat you by quickness or his strength needs multiple defenders on every single play.

The postseason rotation being shortened where guys who aren’t in good shape stayed on the bench. They travel and face one team for the whole series. PJ Tucker can guard a 6’11 guy but it should be on Kevin Durant’s body not with these monsters. Tucker can’t play full 48 minutes to play excellent defense. Once he’s on the bench the Rockets are bad defensively. Robert Covington is a huge help but this man is not enough. The offensive big man will be the best player in the series scoring 20 points per game. While the Rocket’s small ball isn’t as good as the Golden State Warriors in 2015 that had a great ball movement.

James Harden and Russell Westbrook are ball-dominant guards which can be stopped by a premier talent defensively. They threw in their one talent in the paint that they can make a lob pass once help comes. PJ Tucker to catch it for a dunk? I doubt it Houston.

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