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How Can the Rockets Stop LaMarcus Aldridge?

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Is Asik the answer in Houston?

I think it's pretty obvious that the answer to stopping LaMarcus Aldridge certainly isn't Terrence Jones. While he has been very serviceable at times this year for the Rockets, Jones cannot match up defensively against Aldridge. At all.

If you missed it, Aldridge went off for 46 points and 18 rebounds in Game 1 on Sunday night, shooting above 50% from the field during the process. If you combine that with Damian Lillard dropping 31 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists, it's obvious that the Rockets need to figure some things out.

The answer for Lillard is Patrick Beverley, who will hopefully be able to be back at 100% after his MRI revealed no further damage to his knee. The numbers between Lillard and Beverley this year favored the latter pretty significantly, so I'm less worried about Lillard than I am about Aldridge. He'll regress back to the mean.

Aldridge, on the other hand, has shown in every game this year against the Rockets - that number is now at five - that they simply can't stop him. He presents a unique difficulty to the Rockets - Jones obviously can't guard him, but they want to keep Dwight Howard close to the basket to protect the rim. Aldridge's game is away from the basket - exactly where Dwight doesn't want to be.

As mentioned above, it's not like this Jones versus Aldridge matchup is a new development. During the four games that the Rockets played against the Blazers, the Rockets' starting five - Beverley, Harden, Parsons, Jones, and Howard - played 35 minutes. During that time, that lineup posted an awful -42.5 NetRtg (points scored per 100 possessions - points allowed per 100 possessions) against the Blazers. Clearly, this is not working.

So, what does work? What is the correct formula to beat these Blazers and the specific matchup problems that they pose? Let's look at what kind of lineups (with a 20 minute minimum) did well against them this year and see what sort of options the Rockets have.

LineupMinutesNetRtg
Hill, Granger, George, West, Hibbert (IND)29+34.6
Wall, Beal, Ariza, Gortat, Nene (WAS)22+19.4
Jackson, Sefolosha, Durant, Ibaka, Perkins (OKC)65+12.1
Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Lee, Bogut (GSW)55+9.8
Conley, Lee, Prince, Randolph, Gasol (MEM)55+7.2

The common trait between the lineups above? They all include two traditional bigs. Many of the "small ball" lineups against the Blazers this year weren't even slightly successful, as seen by the -42.5 NetRtg that the Rockets starting five boasts.

Perhaps you can see where I'm going with this: Omer Asik!

Against the Blazers this season, the lineup of Beverley, Harden, Parsons, Howard, and Asik was only given 11 minutes of run. However, during that time, they had a NetRtg of +24.7. I know it's a small sample size, but doesn't it at least deserve a shot?

During the regular season, I know that the statistics don't back up that lineup as a successful one. The lineups that included both Howard and Asik at the same time posted 99.2 minutes and had an average NetRtg of about -20.

However, many of those minutes were at the beginning of the season, in the midst of the Asik trade drama and Howard getting settled into a new team. To completely abandon playing your best two big men at the same time because of early season statistics is silly and could really hurt the Rockets in this series.

Even if McHale won't play Asik more - he only played 12 minutes in Game 1 - he should at least give some minutes to Motiejunas and Casspi. Although it's only been in limited minutes, the lineups with those players in the place of Jones against the Blazers have been successful this year. With Motiejunas, the Rockets had a +42.4 NetRtg in 12 minutes and had a +42.3 rating in about the same amount of time with Casspi.

I know in the playoffs you want to tighten up your rotation. I get it. But McHale should at least think about cutting back Jones' minutes (he played 36 on Sunday) in favor of Asik or the other two guys mentioned above.

If the rotation and minute distribution stays the same, look for another monster game from Aldridge in Game 2. Maybe he'll go for 50 this time?

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In This Article

Trevor Ariza
GF, Houston Rockets

Mike Conley
PG, Memphis Grizzlies

Marc Gasol
C, Memphis Grizzlies

Zach Randolph
FC, Memphis Grizzlies

Courtney Lee
GF, Memphis Grizzlies

Donatas Motiejunas
F, Houston Rockets

Kevin Durant
F, Oklahoma City Thunder

James Harden
GF, Houston Rockets

Serge Ibaka
FC, Oklahoma City Thunder

Reggie Jackson
G, Detroit Pistons

Kendrick Perkins
C, Cleveland Cavaliers

Thabo Sefolosha
GF, Atlanta Hawks

LaMarcus Aldridge
FC, Portland Trail Blazers

Chandler Parsons
F, Dallas Mavericks

Marcin Gortat
C, Washington Wizards

Stephen Curry
G, Golden State Warriors

David Lee
FC, Golden State Warriors

Klay Thompson
GF, Golden State Warriors

Andre Iguodala
GF, Golden State Warriors

Andrew Bogut
C, Golden State Warriors

Paul George
GF, Indiana Pacers

Danny Granger
SF, Phoenix Suns

Roy Hibbert
C, Indiana Pacers

George Hill
G, Indiana Pacers

Omri Casspi
SF, Sacramento Kings

Omer Asik
FC, New Orleans Pelicans

John Wall
PG, Washington Wizards

Dwight Howard
FC, Houston Rockets

Nene Hilario
FC, Washington Wizards

David West
PF, Indiana Pacers

Tayshaun Prince
F, Detroit Pistons

Bradley Beal
SG, Washington Wizards

Terrence Jones
F, Houston Rockets

Damian Lillard
PG, Portland Trail Blazers

Patrick Beverley
G, Houston Rockets

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