Rockets will need plenty of ball movement, less iso ball in postseason, says Austin Rivers
Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers has provided us with a preview of what type of game plan his team intends to operate under once the season finally returns.
Speaking to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, Rivers started by explaining how one of, if not the most important thing for the Rockets will be moving the ball.
“No, we got to have ball movement,” he said. “Especially in the playoffs, the floor shrinks, fouls don’t get called as much, the game changes, they’re allowed to be more physical. There’s not going to be fans there to influence refs. So there’s no antics. It’s going to be very physical game where you just can hear players and refs talking. I think because of that, we really have to continue to do what we do. You know, we have to move the ball and play at a high speed.”
Rivers has raised a valid point here. It’s going to be a completely different game in the crowdless arena, and everyone involved — the coaches, the players, the referees — will need to make the necessary adjustments. For Rivers, he believes that ball movement for the Rockets will be key in this respect.
The 27-year-old also went on to discuss how the Rockets intend to cut down on isolation plays, particularly with James Harden. According to Rivers, this is a directive from Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni himself.
“Yeah, he wants to play at a different speed, meaning he wants more kick ahead (passes),” said Rivers. “He wants the ball to be kicked ahead, not dribbling it up all the time. Obviously that’s James and we’re still gonna do a lot of that cause James is our best scorer. James is the best scorer in the league. So you have to play through that and let him do his thing obviously. But at the same time, what Mike also wants is us moving the ball up, you know, really allowing me and Eric guys like that, who can really attack and do that more.”
Houston entered the season hiatus with a 40-24 record, which is good for the sixth spot in the West. The race is extremely tight in the conference right now, with just five and a half games separating the second-placed Los Angeles Clippers from the seventh-seeded Dallas Mavericks. It’s going to be a dash to the finish, with the Rockets at the very thick of the action.