Head coach Kevin McHale won’t formally tip his hand until the league-mandated deadline of 75 minutes before Wednesday night’s tipoff against the Charlotte Bobcats. But Chandler Parsons ended the suspense Tuesday by telling reporters at Toyota Center that the lineup is “the same as how the preseason ended”.
Indeed, it seems to be the identical lineup to the one that excelled to finish the exhibition slate, leading the Rockets to wins over Western Conference heavyweights San Antonio and Memphis. As a result, it’s of little surprise to those around the team.
Asik missed much of training camp and the preseason with a calf injury, so there wasn’t an extensive opportunity to test out the two-center lineup of Asik with Dwight Howard.
But the duo started the final three games of the preseason together against Dallas, San Antonio and Memphis and looked increasingly comfortable, culminating with a stifling defensive effort that limited the Grizzlies to 73 points (32 points on 20% shooting in the first half, when Asik and Howard played).
McHale said early in training camp that Asik was one of the team’s “five best players”, and as such, the coaches wanted to find a way to maximize his time on the floor. At least to start the season, that includes a spot in the starting lineup.
With the point-guard debate, the move to start Beverley became increasingly popular throughout the preseason and culminated when McHale broke his “rotation” of alternating starts between the two by allowing Beverley to start the final two games.
The logic, of course, is that Beverley has a skillset that may fit better with the starters. Lin is the better creator of his own offense, but that might not be needed as often with James Harden, Howard and Parsons all on the floor. Meanwhile, Beverley’s superior defense, rebounding and reduced turnovers could make him a better “fourth wheel” candidate.
On the other hand, Lin’s isolation abilities could be better used to anchor the second unit off the bench, much like Manu Ginobili with the Spurs and Harden when he was in Oklahoma City.
Neither lineup is necessarily a long-term decision. McHale has said on multiple occasions that he could experiment with different variations throughout November and December. But given the impressive finish to the preseason, this seems the sensible place to begin.