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Houston legend Mario Elie wants Clint Capela to play better and earn his money

Mario Elie, Clint Capela

Clint Capela hasn’t been much of a factor in his team’s hard-fought second-round series against the Golden State Warriors. While many understand why the Houston Rockets big man has struggled to consistently make a positive impact, one franchise old-head can’t seem to wrap his head around Capela’s relative struggles.

As former Rockets guard Mario Elie tells it, Capela must play better against the Warriors going forward to both earn his $80 million contract and live up to expectations that he would out-perform Golden State forward Draymond Green.

“I never thought Draymond Green would outplay Clint Capela,” he said, per Hunter Atkins of the Houston Chronicle. “I have a problem with that. Clint got to play better, too. All these guys that get this new money, gotta earn it baby. This is where you earn it—when everybody’s watching.”

Centers without three-point range and high-level ball skills, it bears mentioning, are almost always played off the floor when facing Steve Kerr’s team. That Capela has at times been able to hold his own defensively after switching onto the likes of Kevin Durant and Steph Curry is a testament to his rare agility and coordination, but also an indication of his awkward place in this series.

With both teams switching across the floor, there’s far less opportunity for Capela to make an impact as a weak-side rim-protector defensively, and far less opportunity for him to reap the benefits of James Harden’s penetrating ability as a lob threat. Combined with P.J. Tucker’s comfort playing small-ball five, those realities make it difficult for Mike D’Antoni to give Capela his normal share of minutes.

As for the notion that he should be getting the best of Green, though? Capela is a very good NBA player, but still well short of Green’s level – especially in the playoffs, when the Warriors’ do-it-all forward routinely takes his game up a notch.