Updated: May 24, 2019
Leo Babauta, creator of the blog site Zen Habits, once wrote a message that was short and sweet but very impactful.
“Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.”
Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni and his staff may want to take this advice into consideration if they want to eliminate the Golden State Warriors and advance to the Western Conference Finals. Currently trailing the Warriors 2-1 in the best of seven series, the Rockets may have overlooked one simple way to beat the reigning NBA Champs and that is to make the Warriors go to their bench.
Golden State came into this series with their mind set on going small by removing Andrew Bogut who replaced an injured DeMarcus Cousin and inserting their best reserve player in Andre Iguodala. By going to their “Hampton Five” lineup, the Warriors game plan was to force Rockets center Clint Capela to guard quicker players on the defensive end. That plan backfired in Game 3 as Capela scored 13 points and had 11 rebounds while playing almost 35 minutes in the Rockets 126-121 overtime win.
If Houston wants continued success this series, they must find a way to make Warriors head coach Steve Kerr do something he has dreaded doing this series and that’s use his reserves. With the starters logging over 40 minutes a game led by Kevin Durant’s 45, which is also 11 minutes higher than his regular season average of 34. The bench which consists of Shaun Livingston and Kevon Looney has to step up when their names are called. In the three games this series, Golden State’s reserves has not played up to expectations by averaging a mere 3.6 points per game.
“Everyone that steps on the floor helps us in different ways. Scoring doesn’t really have to be it. I know the stat sheet doesn’t look great, but they give us huge bonuses in defensive presence. Game to game we trust everyone out there on the floor,” said Steph Curry when I asked him about the lack of production from the bench.