There are very few NBA teams that use pin-downs and dribble hand-offs to generate their preferred switches better than the Houston Rockets. Mike D’Antoni designs all sorts of action to get James Harden switched onto weak defenders on the wing or big men who simply can’t keep up with him off the dribble.
Lately, the Rockets have been moving more and more of that action to the wing in order to generate those switches and then give Harden (or Eric Gordon) a lane to drive toward the middle of the floor. They can do it from either the left or right wing, and make the defense pay when it contorts itself in order to avoid the damaging switch.
That’s exactly what happened on Thursday night against the Celtics, as the Rockets had Harden and Gordon hunt down Gordon Hayward and, later, Daniel Theis, in order to get moving toward the rim and create an open shot. Hayward couldn’t keep up in the first half, and Theis was flambeed throughout the second half as the Rockets powered their way to a win. In this edition of Last Night, In Basketball, we break down exactly how it happened.