At least you were not good.
Um all right, we're gonna get started.
How are you today, by the way? How's the week, then? It's been alright.
It's been Ah, Fun series to cover.
I thought it would be over in game six.
Yeah, I think like I definitely was ready for it to be.
And then, like a whole, It just was.
Do you feel good coming out of that? Siri's first off about Houston? Yeah, Coming out? Um, I'm not sure, man.
Like, so I'm just going to stick with what I think about the Lakers.
That's gonna drive my predictions cool.
Uh, all right, Well, first off, thank you, everybody for hopping in your I have Salmin Ali of ESPN 975 Red Nation Hoops podcast and your newsletter, Red Meat.
Red Nation Hoops newsletter.
It is State of the Rocket State of the Rockets.
There we go. So we got this one.
The state of the Rockets newsletter.
How are you doing? Are you a fan of the rockets growing up growing up? Yes, right now? No.
Okay, so you know.
So no sentimental excitement or anything like that.
Well, I'm excited cause it's a great it's gonna be great. Siri's okay.
Yeah, I'm excited to cover this for sure.
And I think it's the saving grace of the second round, potentially depending upon what we have with you.
Don't think anything serious.
They're gonna be good.
Like the Raptors Celtics.
One is the one that I'm kind of like holding out hope for.
I I don't want to say the heat bucks one is over, cause that's a silly take, but I don't know what the I would say.
There's an adjustment to be made, but just buds been really slow on it.
I think one Siri's to watch out for its Clippers Nuggets.
I think people think the Clippers are gonna roll the Nuggets, but the Clippers haven't really road anybody yet and I think the Nuggets are a good team.
Yes, it's a really good team.
I the Clippers are my title favorite, so they're obviously going to be my favorites going into that series.
But I think it's gonna be a little longer than most people think it's gonna be, um Yeah, we should have.
I should have checked in with T.
J McBride, who is a mutual friend of ours since he because we did a preview before all of this, all of it.
I guess the season was restarted.
Kind of talking about the Nuggets and we we neither of us were that positive about that matchup, mostly just because of I mean, I think they're the better suited team of them or the Jazz just because of like, they have a couple of wing defenders to throw and Kawai s.
So I think that's kind of the match up there.
But that's interesting to hear that you think that they're going to be a little bit of, ah, tougher out.
Speaking of tough outs, do you think? Well, let me say this.
How can Houston win this? Siri's like, just as a broad overview, Houston can win this series if they correctly exposed their advantages and their images are pretty clear.
Ah, the Lakers have a roster that is ill fitted to play biker ball.
They have a roster that is composed of primarily big men.
I mean, if you look at half of their roster is basically big men and I don't think allowed these big men are gonna be suited to play in the Siri's.
You're looking at guys like Dwight Howard, Javale McGee, Kyle Kuzma Like like these guys are going to struggle to stand the floor.
If Houston plays their cards right, if they take advantage of these mismatches now, I wonder how the Lakers were gonna defend use because that you would think they're going to stick with how they they've defended all year.
But if they if they were smart, they would try switching a little bit more than they're used to.
And I want to see I want to see what they do.
That's weird because I I haven't seen.
I mean, I just don't even recall them switch even a little bit.
So I think that's a weird thing for them to do.
The Rockets were technically to and go against the Lakers since making the big trade.
My Richard Oh, no, no, they're only one I know.
So yeah, and I was busted like discount.
Every other matchup with the Rockets, except for that February match, is because because I know there too, and one against them season.
But that Rockets team before the trade versus that Rockets team after a traitor to Dole.
Okay, so So you're looking at a, like right now.
It just isn't like a ton of sample to extrapolated off of.
I think one of the really interesting things is, you know, I I just looking through this.
You look at a bunch of net ratings, everything like that I'm kind of trying to see, like, which lineups are really efficient the lineup.
And I think that, you know, I know Vogel has had something along the lines of, like, we know we haven't wanted play our cards fully and we have something sitting there.
I don't know if it's gonna be the five man lineup that everybody is calling for Anthony Davis, the five Kozma Caruso green abettors.
Because they better if they don't start Anthony Davis.
That the five there dirges asking to hemorrhage points right away? Yeah.
I think that that will be the big thing for me.
Like in this syriza's will.
How quickly do you think the Rockets can play those centers completely off the floor that the Lakers are putting out there? So what's interesting is the Rockets over the past two years have been really good at just playing just in general.
They've been good at tightening up their opponents lineups for and pretty much everything they've ever played.
The Jazz, the Warriors, the thunder this year, like they've been pretty good bye Game two or three that are that opposing coaches pretty smart and, you know, discounting some of those players.
But I don't think like I don't think the Lakers can afford to discount all their players because because then they're just gonna be, like five or six guys.
You can't five or six guys.
Uh, I think they're just gonna have to, you know, sneak in there minutes when they can.
I think I think Dwight's gonna play.
Dwight's gonna play.
And if I were Vogel, I would use him as Davis is back up five.
Okay, which which lineup like, when would you if you're trying to sneak somebody like Dwight and like, what, rotation or what Lineup? What it looked like against the Rockets in that scenario, would it just be is like a rebounder exclusively? Just own the offensive glass Or is there something? Yeah, protect the rim.
Get your rebounds put play like a center.
Don't don't try to play like the Rockets.
Yeah, that's what you don't want to do.
You are not equipped to play with the Rockets.
The Clippers are.
The Lakers are not right.
Um, adjustments from, I guess, last round to this round.
Do you think there's anything that you want the Rockets to do differently this time around? Their offense is so shaky, which is weird, because they entered the playoffs as a middling, a middling defense and a top offense, and now they're a middling offense in a top defense, so they've completely changed their identity.
I think if I were Houston, you try to get your some of your guys who weren't shooting the ball well.
Mawr involved at the top of the Siri's like Eric Gordon, Robert Covington started shooting the ball well at the end of the series, but shooting with the ball well at the top of the Siri's.
So get those guys involved early.
Ah, and I think if you're Houston, I mean, this is a quick turn around one day.
I mean, you're basically you have one day of rest.
I would probably lengthen that rotation up a little bit.
I would have been Macklemore play that first game because you can afford to play him against the Lakers.
You can't play, afford to plan against because of the thunder, right? Yeah.
I mean, the Lakers don't have quick guards to expose him like that, but against the Lakers, you can do You can get O playing with that playing in one of the board.
So I think if I were them, I would play Ben Macklemore in Austin Rivers a little bit more, you know, lengthen that rotation, a liberal war to start the series, and Mike D'Antoni said that he's going to do so.
I think I think that the smart adjustment, subtle.
But what I think you know what you want to do to start the series.
Um, matchups are another thing.
I'm really interested just to see just in terms of like, that's the usually the thing that I look at.
I think most people do when you're looking at a new Siri's who's guarding who is guarding the stars.
So we'll start with Anthony Davis.
Who is I got to say I don't know how they're gonna preserve P.
Tucker, and I don't know if you're worried about that.
He's done a pretty good job in, like a very limited sample, so it's interesting.
Every single year.
Tucker's been Houston.
He's been asked to guard Anthony Davis before micro ball.
Yep, so they've never had Clint Capela.
Defense has always been P. J. Tucker.
Now they've only played Anthony Davis with LeBron James on the for once, right? Right, So it's gonna be interesting to see if they decided so.
What we know is that he's going to start the series on Anthony Davis, but I would be curious to see as the Siri's goes along if they decide you know what? We just can't afford to have anybody but P.
Tucker and Robert Covington on LeBron James, right? And I think I think that would be the wiser move if I If if our Houston I would put P J.
Tucker on LeBron James and I would have, you know, it's just kind of is kind of a bold move, I would have James Harden if in Anthony Davis.
Oh, interesting, right? Yeah, because you're staying because you do.
We talk about James Harden's strength as a post defender all year.
If I were a Houston, I would put my money where my mouth is, you know, use his advantages right at the top of the Siri's.
And if it doesn't work in Game one, well, it's Game one you can afford.
You can afford to experiment, right? It was first you games that I think I'd be smart.
I mean, yeah, you're probably not gonna win that match of right, but point per possession wise that Bates the Lakers into giving Anthony Davis is much post possessions as possible.
That's what the Rockets want.
The Rockets do not want LeBron James of the top of the key running, pick and roll.
That's just a snatches, amore efficient place.
I was gonna ask about the pick and roll because I don't know how you stop that.
Either they have If they run Anthony Davis, I don't know what you can do.
You can drop P. J. Tucker.
I don't know, like drop him in the actual hoop.
I don't know if you can stop the chicken.
Oh, I don't know.
Yeah, And if the Rockets continue to switch on the pick and roll.
You're gonna have a situation where you have Hardin on LeBron.
And obviously you don't want that.
I don't know. I mean, let's see.
Let's see what happens in Game one.
But at some point, I would like them to try hard in on Anthony Davis at the very minimum.
Because you want p.
J. Tucker guarding LeBron James.
You just do like he's your best LeBron James defender.
You can get away with guys like Daniel House and Robert Covington, but your best your best.
LeBron James defenders BJ.
Okay, um interesting.
So So you're just throwing a collection of guys at LeBron then kind of wearing him down, right? Yeah.
And I don't I don't think throughout the series, even if p J.
Tucker was a primary defender on LeBron, I don't think they were ever gonna have just one guy to found LeBron.
I don't think that the smart strategy, where is that guy down and gets LeBron the same look every single time, which he get used to it.
Do you worry about, like, for the Anthony Davis thing? Do you worry about it wearing hard and down by having to force him to guard in the post and then write some offense.
Offense? Yeah, well, it may.
But that's why I say you tried out in spurts and you can you can have Robert Covington actually tried defending Anthony Davis.
He's been a pretty good interior defender much better than I thought it was possible when the Rockets first made that trade.
He averages, like, two or three blocks a game, which is a ridiculous Yeah, yeah.
I mean, you can do it a bunch of different stuff, but I would like to see that just for a stint.
You just just just, you know, put all your cards on the table like have Anthony Davis be defended by Harden for at least one stretch to see how it looks.
If it's good, I mean, keep doing it.
I mean, I I just want to see some experimentation.
Your I think this matchup is so unique.
I don't basketball perspective, and I think it's gonna be probably the most entertaining for the second round.
I think it will.
What I like about it is it's such like a philosophical debate like it's it's it It's the height, the old school team.
That's just huge.
And you're getting 1990 versus 2010 like I'm very with it in a lot of ways.
So I think that aspect of it is really, really interesting.
I also will say like I think of these of really any of the teams in the playoffs, Maybe other than the Clippers, I want to say the Rockets are the best equipped to defend this Lakers team.
Yeah, I mean, they have.
They have, ah, plucked a plethora of guys that can throw it LeBron.
Now, whether or not those guys can do a good job gotten hosts LeBron James.
But in terms of the offensive advantage, I mean, I'm not sure again, like we talked about at the top of this podcast.
I'm not sure how much of these guys you can play against the Rockets.
And if you're if you're having to cut your rotation down to like seven guys, I mean the load that you're putting on LeBron and and Danny Green and Anthony Davis.
And I'm guessing coups was gonna have to play in this.
Siri's who's like I wonder if that takes a toll on them.
Yeah, And I think speaking on of the toll thing, like, who do you think has the bigger advantage? And I know Westbrook is still kind of finding his sea legs a little bit.
We had some good moments yesterday.
I thought he played with a lot of, you know, just that, that it was a really nice, solid Westbrook performance yesterday, just doing the little things, fueling the offense, adding energy.
So this I, the him and Harden impacts the game in different ways.
But who do you actually think as a bigger advantage against this Lakers team? ID Still, say, Harden, Uh, and I think, where Westbrook finds his best minutes Or obviously when hardens on the bench like that, that's where, like in the thunder, Siri's like the Rockets were.
I mean, everybody saw this coming, but the minutes without Harden were ugly.
And when Westbrook came back, it was it finally found, leveled off a little bit.
And I think now that they have him, they can survive those minutes and stay above water a little bit.
Ah, and you know, I think those are probably the minutes where if you're the Lakers, you try Sneak in like Dwight Howard.
Ah, and you try to sneak in some of your big men like the minutes were hardens on the floor because, you know, Russ not gonna pick on those big men, right? He's not the same kind of attacker he's not.
He's not gonna go for those step back threes on the perimeter and bait those big men onto him.
He's obviously going to try and attack them off the dribble, but I don't think he's gonna He's gonna search them out, like, you know, like a Chris Paul or James Harden Winter.
So I think if you're the Lakers, if you want to try and get these big men minutes, I think you would try to do that in the minutes.
Where? Recipe? The offense.
Yeah, I one of the things that's like, I'm really curious about it.
Well, the big thing I think in this series is like, who's gonna win the non the moment, like the minutes without LeBron and the minutes without hearted? Because both of those guys like percentile wise there on offering start like Wait, wait, wait Off of the week.
We looked it up with cleaning the glass before this.
So I don't know about you.
I think that's a huge part of this series and a durability test to, um So one of the things I also really want to know is like, Who do you think Guards hard in this in this Siri's quite a bit.
Do you think it's going to be Caruso Jeanie Greene Collection? I think you have to go with Danny Green, right? I mean, the guy, This is a guy who has had the look on Harden before when he was with Spurs and, um, he's experienced.
He knows what he's doing.
Uh, you know, he may not be as quick laterally as he was maybe two or three years ago, but he's still Danny Green.
You still a good defender? Uh, and you could have Alex Caruso and spurts like like the Lakers are going to the same thing with Harden that the Rockets are doing with LeBron James.
They're not gonna have one guy on them the entire time, although I do question how many guys that can possibly throw at James Harden because they just don't have that many perimeter defenders.
I mean you might see some KCP, but I don't know, man.
I'm not sure how much KCP you want on Harden.
You know, like I think I think if I were the Lakers, I would try to keep it.
You know, toe Danny Green as much as I possibly Which of these teams you think is more flexible because one of the like the things I saw flying around a little bit today was that there was talk of the Lakers flexibility and some of the Rockets inflexibility.
I don't know if all that's correct, like I I mean, I think both of these teams have a certain way of playing, but I don't know if there is one or the other or the one.
That's I think right now people are rolling with a little bit.
If that's correct, I think if you could gather something, by the way I'm talking about the Lakers, I think you can tell that.
I don't think they're very deep eso, right? Yes, so I mean, I think in that case, Houston's probably a little bit more flexible.
Although the Rockets can't play, you know, I mean, they don't want to play traditional centers right.
So I guess in that way they're a little inflexible.
But, I mean, it's not like the huge.
It's not like the Lakers can play micro ball with the Rockets, so I mean there.
But that's that's why this is so lynching.
Both these teams can't pivot at all like they're stuck in their strategies throughout the entire series.
They have nowhere to go.
So it's about which team could take advantage of their mismatches the most.
Which it Which team get like, Can the Lakers dominate the offense of glass strong enough to make use and pay? Can the Rockets turn the Lakers over enough to make the Lakers pay? Okay, It's gonna be a constant back and forth, and they can't pivot to anything else, so it's gonna be fun.
I'm excited about it for that reason, because they can't do anything else.
What if what does it look like if the Rockets threes aren't falling like for games at a time? What is or they they're so deep in on this, there's nothing they can really dio.
I mean, if their threes aren't falling.
I mean, this is just a playoff thing, like they're not gonna make it very far.
I mean, they got they got past the thunder cause they're just more talented in them.
But I'm not sure how you know if you can beat this Lakers team if you're not hitting.
I like a least a 34% clip as a team, like 34% stopped hard to hit, But with rockets, they just shoot so many.
And those droughts can get could be so painful.
I'm not sure how much, uh, how much you consider.
I mean, I get I guess if you're Houston in those moments, you gotta have to try and have rust attack the basket as much as he possibly can to make up for what you're not getting from the perimeter.
Um, one of the things I think that was really that stuck out and it almost like it was going to sway the Siri's from from the Thunder.
Siris was there Chris Paul picking out Robert Covington and taking advantage a little bit of the Rockets insistence on switching.
Do you worry about that? Is there a specific matchup that you're looking at with LeBron, who is kind of like the guy that's really really pioneered this in a lot of ways.
Did that quite event quite a bit against the Warriors in some of those finals? Is there anybody you're watching for on the Rockets side, Who you're worried might get picked out like that? Two guys in particular, Jeff Green and James Harden.
Those two guys are going to be fish food for LeBron, and I'm not sure, you know, I mean, hardens defended.
To his credit, he's defended pretty well so far, But I mean, throughout the course of a seven game series, if the Lakers were consistently picking out out.
Yeah, I don't know if we'll survive.
I I I have a feeling that where the Lakers find their best advantages with hardened are probably off the ball, because I think that's where is your weaknesses is like he's not.
He's not a bad one on one defender.
It's off the ball for you.
If you're constantly cutting and if you're constantly making him move, you can get flustered.
If you're just stagnant.
Isil ball went on one.
I'm not sure if that's the best advantage.
I would say Jeff Green's the guy if our Lakers, every minute Jeff Green's on the floor.
I'm subbing LEBRON back in and I'm like, Go, go get as many points per possession as we possibly can hear.
Russell Westbrook had a couple of mental errors in Game six and seven, right? In terms of off, right? Yeah, that's true.
Yeah, so that's like the thing.
I mean, that's where I think the Lakers of such an advantage is that the second U Sag Middle a little bit or you whiff on a rotation or you miss a guy you know, backdoor ing.
That's where LeBron is going to kill you.
And I worry about that.
I think that's probably I don't know if the switching will necessarily get, you know, eaten alive in this series.
It might, but I really worry more about kind of some of the the off ball stuff, right? And the off ball stuff.
I predict that's where Anthony Davis is gonna find most of his food.
I don't I don't think it's gonna be ah through traditional pick and roll.
I don't think it's gonna be through traditional post touches that I think it's through the off ball stuff.
I think Well, you know, I think you will definitely find his points and pick your I'm not going to say he's not gonna find stuff there.
But I think if I were the Lakers, I would definitely seek out some of the off ball stuff and make Anthony Davis move a little bit.
And that's where I think if you're if you're the Lakers, you're gonna find your most success at picking at Houston's defense because they're so they've gotten so good, this one on one switching I'm not sure how much you're gonna find You know how much you're gonna find their other than if you're just looking for Jeff Green every time. Yeah.
Do you mean like, height like him, like hiding in the dunker spot or even like in terms of like, Well, I don't think you want to put I don't wanna waste Anthony Davis talent like that by putting him in the dunker spot.
But but but definitely have them screened for shooters and have them move a little bit.
And you? Yeah, and you can have them for some certain possessions.
The dunker spot.
I'm not going to say you're not gonna find a little bit of success there, but I think you definitely just wanna have him do some high, low stuff.
I don't like, I think I think that's gonna be That's gonna be an area Where if, you know, I think Frank Vote was a pretty creative coach.
I don't think he gets enough credit for that.
I think I think you'll find ways to get Anthony. Dave's involved.
That's not a post touch.
I mean, if the lake, if the Lakers really want to expose this matchup, they cannot go to the post over and over and over again.
That's that's That's the biggest point I want to drive home.
That's not gonna win this series in the post.
So they have to do the other stuff.
Yeah, because that's like the I mean, outside of the switching.
I think that's probably the Rockets were to play the biggest advantage, and White, I kind of like them in this series.
I'll get some predictions a little later, Um, paces another one.
I'm really interested in.
How fast is this Syria's gonna be is going to be slow.
Is it gonna be because I'm that's the one that I just thinking about.
Now I'm like I don't know what this is gonna look like.
I mean, it's a good question.
I It's probably gonna be a middle ground like I don't think once one team is going to dominate the other the Siri's, I don't think it's gonna be a five or six games.
Siri's If it is, then we'll see a significant pace change, right? It's gonna be It will be, either.
If the Lakers win, it'll probably be a slow grind. It out paced.
And if the Rockets, when it was probably because they're playing at a frenetic pace, we're probably gonna be around 15th and pace, you know? All right, whatever that is for a playoff setting.
I think that's kind of where you're told what you're talking about for the pace of serious, because each team is gonna try to play at their specific pace and the Lakers heir to their credit, a pretty good transition team.
You don't get enough credit for that.
I think people think of them as a grinded out team, but they're really good in transition and so are the Rockets.
So um e, I think both teams want to run.
I think If you're the Lakers, you don't want Houston to get in positions where they can run.
I should've looked us up.
How is the how of their transition defense been the Rockets? I mean, in in either the bubble, the playoffs, just in general.
I don't know if you have that all top.
So in the in the bubble, I mean, I don't have the stats in front of me, but But in the bubble, they weren't that great.
The regular season games and yet play ups.
They've been pretty good.
That's interesting is I think that's a big way.
I mean, the Lakers, a lot of its kind of threw that pick and roll post and in transition, but I think we'll see.
I mean, as Vogel said, he's got things hiding.
Well, here's the thing.
This is This is why I'm having such a tough time talking about this Rockets team.
They've switched their identity like they were a middling defense.
I swear to God they were not this good.
Yeah, like I watched them all year that there were not that and they just changed on me.
And like and as a reporter covering the see, I'm supposed to know the poster of their team.
When someone asked me questions about them, I could be able to, and I can answer them now if they're changing up on me, I don't know what to do with that.
That's the thing.
Is it just effort? I think, honestly, mission like that they dig did not give this much of a ****.
Can I criticise your They? They did not give that this much of a **** before the regular season.
And for some reason, hard and especially Hardin has stepped it up to a level.
I mean, it's not like he was that he was playing half ass all year, but now he's playing at a level where I mean, he's one of their better perimeter defenders in the playoffs so far.
Obviously, it's only seven games, but that's what he's been.
I'm just trying to be honest with her and and everybody else.
They've been so good and you know what it is.
I think those first three games, the Rockets were able to surround James Harden with four awesome defenders and Harden, I'm guessing he just blended in like all these guys around me are are are playing top notch defense.
I should end a little bit, played my best.
And you know we can be one of the best defense in the playoffs and and that's what they've been so far.
That's a fascinating dichotomy because you usually think the star is going to set the pace for the rest of the team and have it the other way is fascinating.
Ivan, That's a really interesting take away from the Yeah, I thought it.
It's I you know, you look at the numbers and you see this stuff, but he just talking with you.
I don't even think I thought about how weird it is that they just flipped their activity on it said, After all these years, it's so weird.
I was talking with people about this last night and I we can't find out why.
I don't know why this happened, but it's happened and if you if you if you go back and you look at the Rockets last year, the Rockets dear, before they have consistently switched the flip flip.
The switch on defense last three years going into the playoffs and I don't know why that is.
I'm guessing it's because they're just in older team and they can't be bothered defend the regular season.
But once it comes playoff time consistently, that they they've gotten better every single year they become a top seven defense every single year in the playoffs, which is weird.
It's so weird, but it's what they do, what they do.
I mean, I also wonder if that's like away part of the way they play like for regular season.
If you're doing a switching defense, that's just like so much coordination between teammates and I just like, let's say you're playing in January.
You know you're playing the Hornets.
Uh, are you really gonna be switching like your life depends upon it? I don't know, but I wonder if that's part of it.
If you're working with something like, you know, you look at the defense is that we've been championing.
I mean, look at the bucks right now.
The bucks have been not great defensively.
They they've been basically running.
The scheme that hides and put skies in the best place is possible, but maybe is that what's gonna happen with the N. B a.
Is it going to be so ****geneous that Onley switching defenses it can survive in the playoffs? I hope not so limiting.
That's so exciting.
I hope not, because I hope we can get really unique defense is like I hope we can get more drop back.
Defense's to succeed in the playoffs like the Lakers, right? And if it becomes a thing where it's just Onley switching, defense, conserve, I've in the playoffs.
I mean, we're talking about the player pool for the top teams, being so limited to guys like P.
Tucker, Daniel House and like Robert Covington and all these top teams are just fighting for these guys and me.
Meanwhile, guys like Brook Lopez or just cast off the side, And I don't think that, you know, I don't want to see an N b A words like that.
We're only switching defense and survive. Yeah, I hope.
I hope the drop back defense survives a well, that's my biggest take away from this playoffs.
I hope that defense is able survive.
Yeah, I do, too, and I think the other part the other side of that is the I mean, how many threes it was more so really in, like the seeding games.
I think the threes have kind of evened out.
But early on, you know, you see all these threes falling and you're like So what does that mean for all these teams that are like, Is this the end of the Twin Towers teams and all this, like old school stuff that I felt like we were kind of getting a little bit this year, you know, it was the return of size in the preseason.
I I look forward to that a little bit.
We've we've kind of been hyped up to get the next generation.
It's centers and all these guards were popping off in the bubble.
Yeah, maybe, you know it is.
Maybe they just there has to be real changes or something toe where there are certain shots that are just right now more valuable than others.
And I think if you find ways to make that mid range shot more valuable again, maybe perhaps extend the court like get ready, getting rid of the corner three, like Tom Haver strolls wrote about, Maybe you can you can find a way to make that mid range shot more valuable.
I don't know what the solution here is.
I just know I don't want to see an n b A where everybody is playing the same defense.
I agree, and I don't want it on the other side of the floor.
I don't want it to just be, you know, every single team star surrounded by shooters, no matter how they are.
Uh, that's kind of in that right now.
A little bit switching back to the Rockets a little bit.
Which of who do you think we're not going to see it all in this series? We're getting a little bit deeper in the playoffs.
Um, I know you said he's gonna that Ah D'Antoni is gonna keep the rotational bit longer early on presumptively I don't know if that will remain.
Maybe it will, but who do you think we're just not, um, from the Lakers and the things I don't? They were going to see much of Dion waiters.
I don't think we're going to see much to help McGee and from the Rockets under things.
I think I think you're going to see your I could see Ben Macklemore much after the first couple games.
I'm I imagine they're just doing this so they can relate to the rotation to keep guys fresh because they're coming off the quick turnaround, right? But I think after this first couple of games, you know, like the Rockets want to stay that as one of the top defense is the N B A.
They can't do that with Ben McLemore.
He's kind of their jailed green this year, right? Like he's the guy you can play in spurts when you can survive it, but I'm not sure how much can survive it. Interesting.
Um, yeah, that's a shame.
I want to see Ben Nakamura thrive in the playoffs.
I was ready to buy in.
You might say, if he has a good Game one and he gets you 12 to 15 points, you know, maybe that's good enough to keep you afloat for the next two or three games.
And then maybe you're only talking game 56 and seven as those games where he just doesn't play.
Who's the X factor? Classic Siri's Question affiliate basket.
With every podcast article you to do it, I'm gonna ask it to you.
Who is the X factor for both sides For Houston.
Uh, if he plays big like he has all year, if he's getting you 7 to 10 rebounds per game, if he's getting you to three blocks at the rim per game, uh, I mean, you can survive whatever the Lakers were gonna do to you on the glass, If he's not, you're gonna You're gonna be a below water, right? Ah, and that to me, is why I think he is probably the most interesting player for you.
So I want to see what kind of positions they put him in defectively, if they have him start the series or not, start the series.
If they have them in Game two or something guarding Anthony Davis right near the near that room area, and he's having to play default rim protector, that's gonna be interesting for the Lakers.
I mean, my dif my X factor is Frank Vogel.
Is he gonna you know, go ahead and play Anthony Davis, that center like like that's that's that unlocks the entire series for them, right? Because that because then they're they're flexible right there, malleable Rick, and you can do more creative things offensively.
If you haven't been every of Anthony Davis, it center.
And if you have him stubbornly, you know, if you just go to his whims and have them play power forward, I don't know how much success you're gonna find against this specific team.
You know, there's like two or three teams that could make the Lakers play for the way they play for the way they play.
I think Houston's one of those two teams I'm so interested to see, like a are part of me says This is like this Rockets team is the one to really dislodge them.
But then part of me is like What if this Rockets team pushes them into the adjustment that they've needed to make? And it just it just creates a world beater.
I mean, it would be fascinating to see if the Rockets start this this domino effect, where Anthony Davis placed center for the Siri's and then they find out moving forward, that anti Dave is actually their best centre in the playoffs and then in the off season they abandoned what they've been doing right, easing.
They just get rid of all these like JaVale Dwight All these guys are just cast off to the side and they go search out.
You know, traditional power forwards in the sense that traditional in the sense that we know them now, right, like your your P J. Tucker is right.
Like if they go search for those guys in the offseason instead of doubling down on blank big.
But, I mean, this is work for the most season.
So who might a question? What's worked for the steam? But I don't know, I just There's a part of me.
I mean, there's a reason I've been so skeptical of this Lakers team ever since I saw what they were signing in the offseason, right? Like I got really excited about them when they traded for Anthony Davis.
And and they just okay, they're signing Radio Rondo now.
Okay, They're saying Dwight Howard now.
Okay, They're signing javale McGee now. Yep.
Okay. There's midseason.
Who's gonna be there? Big signing.
Is it gonna be? Is it gonna be Darren Collison? Oh, no, it's It's gonna be Dion waiters.
ITT's just it's they consistently to me made the odd signing at every turn.
And that's why I'm so skeptical about them.
Um, but, I mean, they have LeBron James.
And if you have LeBron James and shooters, I mean, you can survive.
My rockets picked would have been Jeff Green.
I don't know if that's crazy.
Am I expecting too much? Um, so I don't think that we have been crazy if you didn't peter out at the end of this.
Um, so I don't know, Listen like Jeff Green could be play a big factor at the top of the Siri's like we talked about, like guys who can play a big factor at the top of Syria's like Ben McLemore.
Jeff Green could be one of those guys, too.
But I think once you get down to 567 you're talking about him probably peering out the rotation.
Is it just like in, like, a like endurance? Or is it just like he plays his heart out at the beginning? What do you think it is that, like keeps him kind of going or not fighting in a way, if I knew the Jeff Green answer, I would be a millionaire like like it Is he the way he is so consistently inconsistent throughout the course of his career is pretty fascinating, right? And it's why he drives so many people crazy.
And that's why I always caution Rockets fans on my podcast.
I'm like, Do not get to attacks this guy, right light Like like yes, he he is.
He is giving Houston good minutes.
That is, that is, without a doubt.
I can't can't say he's not doing that right.
But moving forward there is always the chance that you're gonna get a four and six stretch from him.
And and you, I don't I don't know.
Um, I don't know of Rockets Fans are ready for that.
It's like the Andrew Wiggins like the 1st 22 weeks of the season, where it's like, Oh, man, he's turned the corner every year, Right? Um, Lakers.
When I think one of the this could be a X factor for either team, potentially is Caruso.
I think for them, obviously, if he's making his shots, he's a huge asset because he's he's just does all the little things defensively.
If he's not making sure it's a good player, we need to start talking about Alex Caruso like he's just a good player and for some reason We always Peter around that subject because he just is goofy looking white guy, but he is actually a good eh NBA player that's going, I think people are catching on like, Oh, this guy's actually really good.
And he's not just like a substitute math teacher is on bleacher for, right? Yeah.
I mean, maybe that's what it is like, Maybe like these mainstream outlets.
Just pump up these Lakers role players so much that we can't take them seriously.
But But the fact is, we should take them seriously because they're good players.
Yeah, No, I think he is that he's a big one for them.
Do you think they're gonna lewd or him at all? The rockets? I mean, uh, no, I don't think I think, Yeah, I think the great to find him like a normal person.
Okay, look, the thing with blue door, it is you just never gonna get the opportunity to do that as a defense like so when the rockets found that opportunity, they they pounds on it.
You know, like you're only like there were three guys in the league where you could do that with were just so bad as shooting from three.
You can do like like Andre Robertson for the thunder with somebody you do that Tony Allen, when he was playing was somebody you could do that with, You know, like there's not that many players in the n b a.
There just like that got off from three.
Where you just leave him wide open, right? Well, I'm or asked that, like, if you're trying to like, let's say you're trying to I don't know, hedge and recover and you need to, like, rotate over.
That's kind of what I mean, not just like sitting there like every time against the ball stand 15 ft away from an almost offended.
Do you think that would be a strategy, right? I mean, I do.
Yeah, they might.
In that sense, they might.
I mean, there are a couple of guys that they do that with every serious where they just like, you know what? In a break, in case of emergency scenario, which gonna leave him open and let him beat us.
But there I don't think in terms of, like, complete disrespect, you were not going to see that in terms of just like yeah, if you want to hedge and recover, we're gonna have a recovery.
But in terms of just like we're just leaving them wide open, they were not gonna see into that.
Okay, um, the Rockets are pretty smart of that.
Like they keep the guys who can't shoot a wide open.
That's Ah, Well, that's that's been another one.
That's very important.
I just like you need like, the warriors really ruined us all.
Wait, we're just looking for every team is supposed to be perfect.
Now it looks weird when a team is doing something wrong in the playoffs.
I really think or just right, we're all spoiled now because Louis Marx like, really, really fun and good.
And I would like I would like him to succeed in the modern MBA.
So I mean, it was pretty cool to see him scored 31 points in Game seven.
You know, like I don't want again.
We talked about the top of Syria's.
I don't want the n b A to become a modernise right.
I want players like that to succeed.
Yeah, and I think like especially as that part of it, too, is just like his journey to get there and kind of the lead up in that Siri's how they were guarding him.
I mean, that stuff, it's very Patrick Beverley.
Ask right Mike during to the n b A.
And I talked about it at the top before the series started.
I'm like, keep an eye on this guy because this guy has a very similar journey to that guy in terms of being undrafted in terms of being unheralded and just speaking his way onto a roster midseason through a two way.
And then they converted him.
Um, I I think I think it's very similar to Patrick Beverley Story and I and, you know, Patch with better reason.
I was stuck in the N B A for, like, eight years.
Now you know why guys really, really good.
Let's get your prediction as we as we, uh, close out here a little bit.
Who do you got? So I've made dozens of predictions in the six years of covered the n ba.
This is the hardest prediction I've ever made.
Idea? Yeah, it is I and I think it would be easier if if the rockets didn't play the way they did in the first round, but now it's just I'm having to think of them.
It's been a totally different light, but I'm going to stick with my preconceived conceived notions the Lakers on and I'm gonna say Rockets and seven, and I don't feel good about it all really queasy.
Saying that out loud just makes me very uncomfortable.
And e I just think the Rockets presents certain advantages that the Lakers air so poorly equipped to defend.
And And I think when you when we talk about the Lakers role players, that's really where, like those guy just can't stay on the floor and defend Houston and you're talking about shallow group of guys would stay on the floor and I'm not.
I questioned the endurance question, Um, the durability e.
I just have a lot of questions, and I have always had these questions about the Lakers, and I think only two teams the NBA are able to make them pay the Lakers and the Clippers and the Rockets and the Plan Them rocks.
Yeah, they play the Clippers next round, probably, although you know you never know how that's gonna go, but I feel like that's probably where we're going.
Actually, one last thing.
I feel I have Lakers in six.
My biggest thing right now.
And it's not even necessarily a Lakers thing, cause I think I know what the Lakers are going to be, what they're going to throwing out there.
It's all the question marks with Rockets.
I don't know what's like.
Westbrook's had moments of right. Real prosperity.
Other moments, it's looked a little rough.
Erik Gordon is like that times a million.
I mean, I just have no idea what you're gonna get outside of heart in a little bit.
So that's my biggest pause right now.
No, those airfare questions Air Gordon? I don't know.
I don't know what the hell happened.
A recording this season, she shot 32% from three this year.
He's a career 37% quencher is the thing about that.
That's a 5% drop, and I recognize that he's been hurt all year and he's had the knee surgery.
But it's just so unheard of for a player to just play completely different.
Um, but he's been a good defender, I guess.
But they're going to need him to hit threes in this here because they need t hit that 35% market.
Least maybe not 37% but they needed to be a 35% 3 point shooter in the Syrian.
And if he can't do that, my rocket and 77 prediction is as good as the paper.
I'm gonna write it on, write it in pencil.
Uh, so, you guys, I've never seen anything like it.
He'll try to break streaks or like, slumps from like, 29 ft out.
That is the I've never seen anybody do that.
That's his comfort zone, man.
I don't know why, but yeah.
I mean, ever since he got to Houston like Mike D'Antoni's, give him, give him the permission to shoot from there and he just find he just enjoys that spot, I guess.
I mean, if that helps him, I mean, continue doing it, I guess.
But, I mean, it's one of those things where if you're Houston, you just need him to hit corner threes, like in terms of above the break threes like that's a luxury at this point, right out, right? Like that's something he usually hits.
They don't right now.
You need to hit those wing threes in those corner threes and that's it.
And have continued attacking the basket like he's an awesome all year.
Yeah, that's the thing that was kind of falling for him.
Do you think that that would be an adjustment? Is putting him in the corners more, um, or is he kind of have a little more free rein than that just cause of Yeah, I I think he has a little bit more freedom free rein than that, because he's gonna be in positions to be a ball handler, and he's gonna be, And that's traditionally at the wing, you know? Yeah, that's where that's where that he likes to hang out.
And usually the Rockets put Robert Cavity and P.
Tucker and that and that the corners.
So I don't know if if you'll find space, there too would occupy.
So I think I think the Rockets continue using him how they're using him.
The problem is, I mean, it really is just a case of he asked histories.
I mean, and we don't really know if that's gonna happen, but I mean that I think If if if I were to redo this this interview and you asked me that X factor question again, I think I might have said Aaron Gordon, three point percent, we could weaken.
We don't even have just closed, right, because because that bad is really a huge, huge factor.
Um okay, So if if this doesn't go the rockets way, what's next? Do they roll it back? Is there any major changes? I mean, this is a loaded question, and I on my side of the world, I finally have entered the point where I don't have to answer questions about head coaches and everything like that.
So you get to enter, potentially enter a very interesting stage of, ah, gets team building everything like that.
Would there be anything or do you do get the indication they're just rolling it back? So my game Tony's in the final year of his contract.
Um, and it really depends on how the Siri's goes.
In my opinion, if it's really competitive and that is the lose to a better team, um, I I get that I get that I get the feeling that he has a more fair chance at keeping his job than people are giving him right.
I think most people just assume he's out the door, and I don't think that's fair.
I I think he's I mean, he's a Hall of Fame coach and the Rockets recognize how good he is for the specific team, like he finished their identity so well.
And they're going to keep going micro ball for the net for the foreseeable future.
Like I I can tell you right now, they're not.
Even if they don't advance past this round next season, they're gonna roll out P.
J. Tucker at center.
That's not changing.
So, um, so I I can't think of a better coach to coach that specific brand of basketball that Mike D'Antoni.
And in terms of coaches, you can find the market.
I mean, there are a couple you can think of that maybe, you know, are up to par.
But there's they're few and far between, and I'm not like, I guess I do.
I just don't see the logic there who would be on the market if I guess is the obvious next question.
But I guess the Van Gundy's air interesting rights particularly stand because Stan is a coach who's willing to experiment right, right and and play, uh, pace and space, right? He did that in Orlando, and I think that's that's the kind of coach that fits their identity pretty well.
Um, they may actually give, you know, if they were to move onto for Mike D'Antoni, they might.
They might actually give it an opportunity Toe one of the one of the assistant coaches and bread gunning spread.
Gunning is a guy who I think it's gonna be a head coach in the n b a.
Ah, he is a really skilled tactician.
Er from the offense event in terms of the rocket sets like he is responsible for a heavy percentage of them, and he doesn't get enough credit for that.
Uh, he's just a really quiet guy.
Like if you look on the Rockets, man, she's a guy with a tablet.
He's always constantly just playing with that thing, showing players what they're doing wrong on offense.
Ah, and that's a guy who I think they should.
At least if they're gonna move on from Mike D'Antoni, he should at least get an interview.
And you know there are other guys like Chris Finch is an interesting guy.
Chris Finch is a guy who I think is another guy who I think is gonna be a head coach in the N B A.
One day? Um, yeah.
I mean, if you really want to do a deep search, you could do a deep searches, a close planning.
Have qualified head coaches out there.
Jared Vanderpool from the Blazers.
You know, they're they're just a bunch of head qualified head coaches that you can look for.
But in terms of somebody who you can find the open market, that's as good as D'Antoni for the specific team that's already established.
And I think this is G that's already established a bond with the star player.
I don't know if you're gonna find that on the open market, So I would be really careful firing use.
Why do you say that? You think they're going to stay with the micro ball thing, just cause of salary or just cause of like everything that you've heard from, like the front office and how they feel about it.
I mean, you look at the roster construction, right they traded Clint Capela, who was signed to a multiyear deal for Robert Covington, who signed to a multiyear deal.
And they they Ah, they made some interesting signings.
This during the bubble.
What do we call that brief period between the end of the deposit Vegas against We call it the positive.
I've had no idea.
I've had to describe it in writing.
At least, you know how many times? And I don't think I know what it's like.
I'm gonna call it the positive, right? So So eso they made some interesting signings during the positive to indicate that this is what they're going to do, moving forward.
And if you talk to their person, if you talk to their you know, if you talk to them like this, this is what they're gonna do.
I would be very surprised if they hard pivot unless and this is the real X factor.
If they decide to move on from Darrow, I'm not sure.
Then everything's up in the area and then then I'm not the person.
Answer this t properly after this question, I I don't know.
And I I have a feeling Garrow is probably secure.
But, you know, people have always asked that question to me and I I don't really know.
I mean, I I don't really know Tilman Fertitta like that.
So I just one of those things Where exactly? Definitely a big X factor in their off season.
If Darryl keeps his job, they continue down this path too much in the air right now.
It sounds like to answer any of these Just go with the status quo.
I think I have a general idea.
Okay, if I were to put bars on it, I'll say this.
I think I think both Darrow and D'Antoni state if article Dajani okay, West, if if they lose in a competitive series Westbrook I mean they have Can they get rid of one? I'm not sure.
I'm not sure where they're gonna trade him.
Yeah, that's what I just threw out for everything.
Now celeb or for your device? It's right.
They're They're just everybody's Goldman, my friend.
Thank you. This was wonderful.
I wanna let you plug away anything you have coming out.
Anything you want A preview? Um, this the floor is yours.
My, my Siri's previews gonna come out tomorrow where I give my serious prediction.
And, you know, I know everybody is just waiting on pins and needles for that sound Like I just gave it away 10 minutes ago, but, uh, that's going up.
That's going up tomorrow.
Uh, I have a podcast version of the Siri's preview.
That's Ah, that's been in the bank for a couple months Because we didn't have anything to podcast about during the positive.
So I went through and previewed a bunch of potential matchups in the playoffs for the Rockets.
So the Lakers were one of them.
So you guys goes to that with ah, Dan for Valley.
So, uh, which is really fun? Um, and yes, it scrapped the newsletter, subscribe to the newsletter State of the Rock State of the Rockets.
I I know that now.
Right, my friend.
Thank you so much for coming on. This was a blast.
The next two weeks of Earth or however long the rackets lost in this Siri's, it'll be fun.
Thank you again for sure, man.