Bob on 05 12, 2009
Are the Houston Rockets better off without their colossal Chinese center Yao Ming? Regular season, absolutely not. Playoffs? It’s something to mull over.
I’m not simply trying to go against the grain for the reason that the Rockets handed the Los Angeles Lakers an embarrassing (to say the least) defeat the other night with the absence of Yao, but the Rockets certainly played a different brand of ball, a style of basketball that I feel benefits them against a tough Lakers team.
Now, at 7 ft. 5, Yao is an imposing physical presence to say the least. He is one of the more dominant centers in the league, and is nearly impossible to guard. Unlike most big men in the league, Yao is a great free-throw shooter, so the hack technique is useless. However, even after all this being said, I feel the Rockets have a better opportunity of pasting the Lakers without their All-star center. I’ve got to be talking crazy, right? I mean, after all, Yao dropped 28 and 10 in Houston’s first W against LA…
With the absence of scrub ‘superstar’ Tracy McGrady, Yao turned into Houston’s ‘go-to guy’ on offense. Similar to LeBron James, Yao usually will get his (except for game 2 when he was held to 12 and 10). This gives opposing teams the ability to hone in on shutting down the remaining 4 players on the floor.
Now that the freak of nature is sidelined with an injured gargantuan foot, the Rockets really don’t have a go-to guy, unless you’re looking for someone to get stabbed with a table leg, then Ron Artest is your guy.
When Yao Ming is in the game he usually clogs the lane up and is the Rockets focal point on offense. He is replaced by 6 ft. 6 Chuck Hayes. Most are quick to say, ‘oh 6 foot 6?.. He will get handled in the post.’ This is entirely wrong. The PF from Kentucky is not much of an offensive threat, but he is a tremendous post defender. Hayes is more versatile than Yao, for the reason that he is great on help defense and can guard the perimeter as well. I’ll go so far as to say that Hayes is one of the better defenders in the league. Don’t believe me? Watch him next game. I bet by the end of this series we will all be very familiar with Chuck Hayes.
Now that Yao is done, the Rockets can play at a higher tempo. Head coach Rick Adelman said he’s looking to push the pace with Yao out of the lineup. Speedy PG Aaron Brooks is too much to handle for Derek Fisher’s senile self. Jordan Farmar and Fish played just about even minutes last game, but neither seemed to be able to contain Brooks, hence his career high 34 points.
If the Rockets can continue to knock down tre balls, buckle down on D and push the tempo offensively, they have a very legitimate shot at taking this series from the Lakeshow. I’m curious to see how both LA and Houston respond tonight after the last game.
Side note: Pay close attention to Chuck Hayes on the defensive end, he truly is a beast.