Who’s Next?

Kurt —  April 28, 2009

NBA 2009: Lakers Beat Jazz 119-109
Not everything was pretty about how the Lakers beat the Jazz — unless you enjoy giving up leads just to live dangerously — but in the end just about everybody on the planet said the Lakers in five and the Lakers won in five. They looked dominant at times doing it, and the bench was alternately fantastic and frustrating.

But the Jazz are gone. Who’s got next?

Well, either the Rockets or Portland. The Rockets are up 3-1 on the Blazers, next game on Tuesday night (NBA TV, 7 pm). The Rockets have big matchup advantages in this series that they are exploiting better than I thought they would. The Blazers have nobody who can slow Yao, forcing a lot of double teams that is opening things up for others on offense. On defense, the Blazers are a jumpshooting team and with Battier and Artest the Rockets have some quality perimeter defenders.

We’ll get into more of an Xs and Os breakdown against the Lakers later, but Zephid has laid out the case quite well (and I agree with him) that the Lakers easier path is through Houston.

On Offense Against The Rockets

Without Mt. Mutombo, the Rockets have no legitimate big man to back up Yao, so either he’s going to be handling the brunt of our Gasol/Bynum two headed seven foot monster, or they’re going to have Landry or Chuck Hayes guarding them. Needless to say, I like our chances, and that doesn’t even touch on the mismatch that Odom brings against Scola. So long as Kobe doesn’t have another few cold games when deciding to destroy Artest single-handedly, we should have a deadly efficient series against the Rockets.

On Offense Against The Blazers

The Blazers, on the other hand, have two legitimate seven-footers in Joel Przybilla and Greg Oden. Both of those guys are true bangers, and as we’ve seen in the past, they could easily outmuscle our guys underneath and get a ton of offensive rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge and Channing Frye also have good size to use against Odom, so that match-up loses it’s luster. On the perimeter, Nicolas Batum has been very aggressive against Kobe, doing fairly well at taking him out of his comfort zone, while Travis Outlaw is long and tall enough to bother a lot of Kobe’s shots. Overall, all the beautiful mismatches we have against the Rockets we simply do not have against the Blazers.

On Defense Against The Rockets

As Portland has shown, if you are going to double team Yao, you’re going to have to cover Scola and Landry at the free throw line if you want it to be effective. That being said, we have the advantage of choosing to do either. Both Bynum and Gasol will be able to at least bother some of Yao’s shots with their length, so I doubt he’ll have the ridiculous efficiency that he’s had against the Blazers. We can also bring Odom across the lane in the SSZ, which should serve us well if we can cover the passing lanes adequately on the weak side. On the perimeter, I like the idea of Aaron Brooks charging into a forest of seven-footers, so I’m betting Fish will play up on him and force him into the SSZ and a few bad decisions to boot.

On Defense Against The Blazers

While the Blazers have similar models to our team, the one difference is they are a jump-shooting team. The Rockets are able to contain them so well because they have a lot of great individual defenders. Lowry, Battier, Artest, Landry, Hayes, and even Scola and Yao to some extent are very good individual defenders who don’t require help. This way, Portland isn’t getting any uncontested jumpers unless it’s off Roy’s penetration. Compare this to our defense, which has a penchant for giving up open jumpers, and is especially weak against sweet-shooting bigs, and you can see why we’ve lost 2 games to them this season.

213 responses to Who’s Next?

  1. I don’t think any decision has been handed down on Howard (should get suspended) or Rondo (should not.) Both plays are being reviewed by the league office.

  2. Now it’s official. Howard has been suspended one game.

  3. I saw Rondo’s foul on Miller, but haven’t seen enough replays though. I still think however, that if Rondo truly went for the ball, then he went for the ball, and that’s fine. However, if he intentionally went for Miller’s head without even trying for the ball, then he should be suspended as well, according to league rules and just to send a message that heads are off limits. If he went for the head.

    I haven’t seen enough replays to know for sure, and everyone who says they did seems to be too biased to be credible.

  4. Rondo’s play was tricky in that it really was a bang/bang play. The lane opened rather quickly for Miller and Rondo was the player that should have tracked him because Perkins switched to cover Rondo’s man. So, Rondo ended up being in full pursuit to try and defend a man that he had responsibility for and doing it in a panicked recovery mode. That said, Rondo swung with full force and came no where close to making a play on the ball, ultimately hitting Miller right in the face. I should also note, though, that flagrant fouls aren’t issued off whether or not a player made a play for/on the ball, but rather if there was excessive contact. I for one think that Rondo’s play was excessive, but that it does not warrant an after the fact suspension (like Howard’s play does). In the end, what makes this most troubling is that if the league actually does re-classify Rondo’s foul a flagrant, it means that the refs did make a mistake and one that should have rewarded the Bulls the ball with another chance to tie the game. So, even though Miller missed his FT’s the Bulls could have still done something to extend the game. Now, they don’t get that chance and the C’s have a series lead.

  5. I agree with Darius. I think Rondo was out of position and just swung to take a foul and prevent the shot from going in. It was excessive and should have been called a flagrant but did not warrant a flagrant 2 or a suspension. If the game was in Chicago or the foul happened at any other time than the last few seconds of the game it probably would have been called a flagrant.

    That being said that is not why the Bulls lost the game. They gave up an 11 point 4th quarter lead and couldn’t defend Pierce down the stretch. That is why they lost the game.

  6. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/090429&sportCat=nba

    Okay, even Simmons admits Rondo should be suspended, and the league doesn’t even upgrade it to a flagrant one. Pathetic.

    On another note, why wasn’t Tyrus Thomas in the game on that play? He would have dunked the ball over anyone Boston had on the floor at the time, absorbed the contact, and got the foul. Great job VDN.

  7. Thanks for the update, emh101. I didn’t know a decision had came down. I was just looking for some FBG commentary, but it seemed like folks were only interested in the Rondo foul.

    Of the 2 really crazy highlights I saw this morning before work, it wasn’t that Rondo love tap that made me hit back on the DVR. Twice.

    Game 7 is in Orlando on Saturday…

  8. Seems like most of the people on Twitter are pulling for the Rockets to win so we can have a easy road to the Conference Finals.

  9. NBA just sent out a notice: Round two starts on Monday, regardless of outcome in Portland Houston.

    New thread up, complete with a Chick rapping video.

  10. Cayucos Surfer April 29, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    I’m usually one who thinks flagrants are pretty overblown.. but really? i saw that play. Rondo made no attempt at that ball. Odom gets a one game suspension for stepping a foot off the bench, and Rondo more or less punches Miller, he needs stitches later, and NOTHING is called? Not even a flagrant 1? Losing a little bit of respect for the League. If a bull had done that to Paul Pierce or Rayray, everyone would be screaming for his head. Ridiculous double standard.

  11. Clutch,
    Yeah, that Howard play was over the top. He elbowed a guy in the head! And after the game he said something along the lines of “everyone knows what kind of player I am…I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone.” Really? You’re one of the biggest and strongest players in the league, you wind up, then elbow a guy in the head and you didn’t mean to hurt anyone? Anyways, I think the suspension is warranted and agree with the quote I read over in one of the Truehoop posts that two games would have been a reasonable suspension. Anyways, I do agree that Philly will be looking for some revenge and to get a win to force a game 7. On a side note, I’m really tiring of SVG. I’ve never really had an oppinion on him (though, I think that “master of panic” talk by Shaq was pretty funny), but his post game presser was pretty sour in my book and I’m not really liking him right now.

  12. The usual insightful comment plus a jab at SVG. Anytime you can get criticism out of Darius (always legitimate), it’s a good day.

  13. the other Stephen April 30, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    i don’t think derrick rose will ever have an exciting enough public personality for the nba to really really endorse him, and i hope it stays that way. any interview with him falls flat like a dead fish. keep it real, derrick rose. it’s why you’re so awesome!