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Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni explains decision to play Jeff Green over Robert Covington

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Houston Rockets head coach opted to field Jeff Green over Robert Covington late in the fourth quarter of their eventual Game 1 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. For the head coach, Green’s innate playmaking abilities informed this key decision.

In their 123-106 win over the Thunder, Green finished with 22 points, six rebounds, and four assists. After the game, D’Antoni pointed out Green’s key assets which greatly contributed to their win. Per Ben DuBose of USA Today:

“Jeff can make plays,” said D’Antoni, who allowed Green to play ahead of starter Robert Covington late in the fourth quarter. “He’s like a point guard out there, a point center, whatever you want to call it. He was good tonight, he caused a lot of problems for them.”

The Rockets’ offense usually revolves around James Harden. But in their game against the Thunder, it was Harden who was on the receiving end of assists and wide-open 3-pointers. D’Antoni credited Green for opening up things for the entire team.

“I think it’s terrific. Jeff played really well. He opens up so many other possibilities, getting guys shots or wide-open shots for himself or giving James a little bit of a break to get open. All he has to do is pick and pop back. If they don’t switch, he goes to the rim and dunks. If they do, then James has the ball in a great spot.”

Even without Rusell Westbrook, the Rockets did alright much thanks to Green’s resurgence. Game 2 between the Rockets and the Thunder will be on Thursday.