Ever since the Houston Rockets traded Clint Capela and brought in several guards and forwards in their team, they are playing without a classic big man. That has triggered a lot of discussion around the league, whether the small ball where you none of your players is taller than 6’8″ can work, especially against teams that have dominant big men in their lineups.
During his appearance on ESPN’s show Pardon the Interruptions, Charles Barkley talked about the new concept the Houston Rockets introduced. Charles himself is a not big fan of the small ball because he believes the Rockets dynamic duo of Westbrook and Harden will need to have big games every night if they want to win against bigger teams. In a seven-game series, it will be hard for the Rockets to outplay teams that have dominant big men.
“I’m not a big believer in the small ball for a couple of reasons. Number one I think it’s going to wear those two guys down. First of all, they have to play great every night for the small ball to work. That is the first issue, and I think they are going to get worn down. They both have to play great every night for the small ball to work. I think the cumulative effect of playing against big teams night in and night out will catch with them in the long run, so I don’t believe in small ball.”
Charles might be right and Rockets find themselves having problems with physically bigger teams; however, in 10 games so far that since they introduced small ball, they are 8-2. That is a relatively small sample, but the Rockets finally play somewhat watchable basketball. One loss during that span was a half-court buzzer-beater against the Jazz without Gordon, and the other was a blowout against the Suns. The Rockets were coming off a back to back game and were playing without Westbrook and Gordon.
During this run, they’ve beaten the Lakers, Celtics, Mavs, and Jazz twice. These are all one of the best teams in the NBA, and every win came with an 8+margin. Their schedule looks relatively easy for the next month, and they are currently 4th seed only two games behind the second seed Denver Nuggets. The Rockets will be fun to watch, especially in the playoffs, because it will be the perfect opportunity to test out their system and see if Barkley’s theory was right.