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Mike D’Antoni says Rockets’ new players are finally getting a hang of switch-heavy scheme

Mike D'Antoni, Rockets

Mike D’Antoni’s Houston Rockets were one of the better defensive teams in the league during the 2017-18 season and a huge reason for that success was the team’s insistence on a switch-heavy defense. The Rockets emphasized fluid switching across all positions in order to mitigate the damage done in the pick and roll.

Their signature defense was in complete disarray this season, but D’Antoni believes that his team is coming around to the philosophy.

” I don’t know about specifically. You could have changed P.J.’s name in there with Eric Gordon or Chris Paul. We’ve got a bunch of defenders that now are starting to understand each other,” Mike D’Antoni said.

“I think the biggest thing was that Isaiah [Hartenstein] and Gary [Clark], they’ve probably never switched before. You know? I don’t know, they’re just now getting into what we do and defense is five guys and if one guy doesn’t doing it then you’re in trouble. It just took a while to get them and even James Ennis, he’s never switched before so it just takes a while. Now they’re getting better. Last five games it’s been real good and we expect to get better than that.”

The switch-heavy defense is also a big reason why Carmelo Anthony’s tenure with Houston was so brief. Melo is no longer capable of playing in that defensive system, and that is why the team is playing better when he is off the court.

The shaky start was not entirely Melo’s fault, but it’s clear that the Rockets are starting to get more comfortable defensively in his absence. The Rockets are slowly finding their rhythm in this young season.