It took about six weeks, but the Rockets finally hired someone to fill their coaching vacancy.
Former Dallas Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas signed a four-year deal to become head coach of Houston, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Silas, who's been in the NBA for 20 seasons now as an assistant, takes over for Mike D'Antoni, who resigned from his role after four seasons. And while there is talent at Silas' disposal, elevating this Rockets team to the next level to make them a contender and no longer a pretender, will be difficult.
The Rockets got bounced in the second round of the playoffs for the second-straight season, losing in five games to the eventual champion, Los Angeles Lakers.
This year's early playoff exit was the final straw for D'Antoni. The 68-year-old told the franchise he wouldn't be returning as head coach a couple days after being eliminated by the Lakers. A month later, Daryl Morey stepped down as general manager, and he's now GM of the 76ers.
His successor is Rafael Stone. The former executive vice president of basketball operations for the Rockets was promoted upon Morey's resignation and has been with the franchise since 2005. Stone's first major move as GM is the signing of Silas.
But now that the Rockets have found their guy, how will they improve their roster for next season? Surely they can't bring back the same squad as last season, right? The Lakers, Warriors, Nuggets and Clippers will be among the best in the west during the 2020-21 campaign, and Houston isn't beating any of those teams as currently constructed.
And with reports that the 2020-21 NBA season will begin as soon as Dec. 22, they'll need to move quickly if they haven't been already. But now that the Rockets have a new general manager and coach, let's focus on how they can maximize James Harden's prime before it's too late.
Hear me out: Russell Westbrook is a really good player. His athleticism, finishing ability, post-up game and one-man fast-breaks are impressive as hell. But he can't make threes at a consistent rate, he makes terrible decisions late in games and he's an average defender.
Oh, and he can't be on the floor when Harden is. It just doesn't work. LeBron James and company brought that to light in the bubble. The Beard needs spacing around him, and spacing only happens when there's shooters on the floor. Russ doesn't have that in his bag.
Last season, the former MVP Westbrook shot just 26% from three. In the playoffs, that number fell to 24%. In 57 regular season games (bubble seeding games not included), he averaged 27.2 points, eight rebounds and seven assists per contest. In eight playoff games, his scoring output dropped dramatically to just 18 points a game to go along with seven rebounds and 4.6 assists. The Lakers were daring him to shoot from the perimeter, and it paid off, as the Rockets point guard went 7-of-27 on such attempts.
If I'm the Rockets general manager, I'm looking to acquire a stud defensive big man who can rebound and protect the paint-or, a big man who can stretch the floor and be a perimeter threat. I've created some sample trade packages::
In this deal, the Rockets get versatile center Nikola Vucevic, who averaged nearly 20 points and 11 rebounds a game last season. He shot 34% from deep and is a quality passer, having recorded nearly four assists in 32 minutes a night.
Vucevic would give Houston a much-needed big man to battle against centers in the West like Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert and more. Point guard Markelle Fultz could be used as a sixth man for Houston, giving them a scorer and playmaker off the bench. The Magic would get two star players, who also happen to be former UCLA teammates, and likely a pick or two, and they can finally start Mo Bamba and give him a chance to develop. For Cleveland, they dump Love's contract and get two quality starters.
Trade scenario No. 2:
Houston would likely have to include picks in this trade also, in whatever year they still have some. But Kevin Love brings rebounding, shooting, finishing and passing to the Rockets' front court. He's averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds on 37% 3-point shooting so far in his career and won a title with the 2016 Cavs. Collin Sexton would give the bench a scoring punch when Harden is off the floor, and he loves to push the ball in transition which is optimal for Houston's shooters.
Now, if Stone and Silas want to hang on to Westbrook and run it back, there are some notable free agent targets they should consider this offseason.
The first player Houston should be looking at is Serge Ibaka. An 11-year NBA veteran, Ibaka is an unrestricted free agent coming off a superb season. In 55 games, the 31-year-old averaged 15.4 points and 8.2 rebounds on 51% shooting and 39% 3-point shooting. That's pretty good for a near seven-footer who records 2.1 blocks per game in his career.
Ibaka would give the Rockets floor spacing, rebounding, defensive ability and a PNR threat at the center position — something they need if they want to compete with the big dogs in the west. He also might be willing to come on a bargain deal if he gets a big role and a chance to add a second championship ring to his collection.
Hold the Kardashian
Cleveland is likely going to re-sign Andre Drummond after acquiring the former Detroit Piston via trade last season. This means Tristan Thompson will presumably test free agent, and the Rockets should give him a look. The nine-year veteran is just 29-years-old and recorded 12 points, 10 rebounds and a block a game in 2019-20.
Thompson isn't an outside threat, but he did make 9 of his 23 attempts in 57 games. Thompson, like Ibaka, is also an NBA champion, having won a title with the 2016 Cavs. He can match PJ Tucker's front-court toughness and at 6-foot-9 and 254 pounds, he can battle with both power forwards and centers in the league.
Marc It down
Despite previous rumors that Marc Gasol was heading home to play in Spain, he isn't. Not yet, anyways. But how much he has left in the tank is another question. Gasol is 35-years-old and on the back end of his career. Last season, he played just 44 games, averaging 7.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists on 43% shooting. He did shoot 39% from the perimeter, however. If the 7-foot Spaniard wants to play in the NBA for a little longer, Houston could get him on a low-cost deal that could result in high production. The numbers aren't in his favor, but Gasol can still play and provides floor spacing and great passing ability at the center spot.
Houston has plenty of options this offseason, but it won't have much time to make the necessary changes before the season begins. Hiring a new coach a step forward, now the Rockets need to decide if Westbrook is in their future plans, and even Harden. Shams Charania reported the Sixers are interested in acquiring the 2017-18 MVP. Whether he's actually dealt remains to be seen.
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- Ben Simmons May Be Houston Rockets' Best Trade for Harden ›
After three consecutive victories, the Golden State Warriors conceded Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals to the Dallas Mavericks. In Game 5, the Warriors will look to close out Luka Doncic and the Mavs in front of the home crowd. As a team, the Warriors were efficient from the field, converting 48.8% of their shots taken. One of the main reasons Golden State lost was a result of poor free-throw shooting. The Warriors missed nine of their 27 free throws on Tuesday night (65.4 FT%). In comparison, the Mavericks were full-throttle in Game 4 facing elimination. Dallas’ Reggie Bullock (18 PTS) and Dorian Finney Smith (23 PTS) combined for 42 points, adding to Luka’s 30.
Ultimately, no team has ever come back from a 3-0 lead in the playoffs, meaning that the Warriors will almost certainly be heading back to the NBA Finals. Let’s take a look at what the best bets are for tonight’s Game 5.
Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 2:00 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.
Best Bets of the Night
Game: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors -6.5 (GSW Leads 3-1)
Bet #1: Dallas Mavericks, +6.5 (-110)
We like Dallas to keep it close. Perhaps Dallas has a 10-point lead going into the third quarter which the Warriors could then overtake in the second half. Regardless of the scenario, the Mavericks won against a Warriors team that still put up 109 points in Game 4 on close to 50% shooting from the field. Dallas shot above 50% from the field in Game 4 and took many shots to get there just like they did in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semis against the Phoenix Suns. Even Jalen Brunson said in the post-game interview with the guys from Inside the NBA that his team needs to "take it one game at a time (...) like four Game 7s."
While the Warriors are in it to win it tonight, the Mavericks seem to perform best when facing elimination this 2022 postseason. While they might lose tonight, the Mavericks seem to play well under pressure. As a result, take them +7 tonight as the Warriors will have a bigger challenge on their hands than they anticipate.
Bet #2: Over 215.5 Total Points (-110)
In two of the series’ four games, both teams combined for at least 220 points. In Game 2, 243 points were scored while in Game 4, there were 228 points tallied. The Mavericks shoot more when facing elimination. This has been a trend we have seen throughout the postseason. In Game 7 of the Western Conference Semis, the Mavericks scored 123 points while in Game 4 against the Warriors on Tuesday, Dallas scored 119 points. Not much more needs to be said about the Warriors’ high-power offense that will likely outscore Dallas regardless of how many points they get on the board.
NBA Player Props of the Night
Game: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors -6.5 (GSW Leads 3-1)
Prop #1: Dorian Finney-Smith Over 11.5 Points
Dorian Finney-Smith erupted for 23 points in Game 4 to help the Mavericks rally past the Warriors. Throughout the 2022 playoffs, he’s averaged 11.6 PPG shooting 46.5% from the field. He’s also seeing 38.2 minutes per contest this postseason. Expect Finney-Smith to score at least 12 points tonight after his 23-points in Game 4.
Prop #2: Klay Thompson Over 18.5 Points
Klay Thompson was held to 12 points scored in Game 4. Despite going 5-of-10 from the field, Klay was limited by Dallas on defense in 28 minutes on the floor on Tuesday night. He should definitely be taking more shots tonight and perform better overall being back home for a Game 5. Thompson should easily hit at least 20+ points tonight, and take a handful more shots from the field in this contest than in Tuesday’s.
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In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Bam Adebayo's 31-point and 10-rebound double-double led the Miami Heat to a 109-103 victory over the Celtics on the road. That was followed by a dominant second-half performance by Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins who led the Warriors to a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals.
Tonight, we'll get the first of these two matchups. Boston will look to come back in their second home game against a Heat team that is clearly not at 100% healthy. Tyler Herro has been ruled out for Game 4 while Kyle Lowry remains questionable. Here are some of the best bets for tonight's and tomorrow's big Game 4s.
Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 3:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.
ECF Game 4: Miami Heat at Boston Celtics -7 (MIA Leads 2-1)
In Game 4, the Celtics rallied back from double-digits to make things interesting in the fourth quarter. However, Boston conceded Game 3 to the Miami Heat 109-103. On Sunday, Bam Adebayo was getting everything he wanted down low. He finished with 31 points, 10 boards, six assists, four steals, and one block. Ime Udoka will need to boost the presence of his big men down low, perhaps by extending Daniel Theis’ minutes or having him share the floor more with Al Horford. The major reason for which the Heat are considered the seven-point underdogs for tonight’s game is injuries. Tyler Herro has already been ruled out for Game 4, and the Heat have four or five other players in their lineup currently listed as questionable. This includes Max Struss, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, and P.J. Tucker. Butler is dealing with knee inflammation which sidelined him for the second half of Game 3.
Even if all of the players in the Heat’s rotation are good to go tonight (outside of Herro), Boston has not lost back-to-back home games since late October. Plus, Jaylen Brown is shooting much better than he did earlier in the postseason. In fact, he’s elevated his shooting to 50% from the field through the 2021-22 playoffs through 14 games played. Expect Boston to bounce back big in Game 4, with multiple players on the Miami Heat not at full strength.
The Pick: Boston Celtics -7 (-110)
WCF Game 4: Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks -1 (GSW Leads 3-0)
Well, it’s looking like the Golden State Warriors are returning to the NBA Finals. With the emergence of Jordan Poole late this season and into the postseason, Andrew Wiggins’ First-Team All-Star season, and Klay Thompson’s return to basketball, Golden State has been simply phenomenal. Golden State is simply that good this year, with anyone on the team capable of stepping up. Stephen Curry erupted in Game 3, while it was Andrew Wiggins that caught fire in the second half of Game 4. Any given night, the Warriors have one or two guys who they can count on for scoring approximately 25+ points. Considering the Mavericks' struggles this round, particularly behind the three-point line, bettors should go with the Warriors as the slight underdog. Teams get swept sometimes. Just ask the Brooklyn Nets. The Warriors will bring out the brooms and sweep the Mavericks as they punch their ticket to the NBA Finals Tuesday night.
The Pick: Golden State Warriors ML -104
NBA Player Props
Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks -1 (GSW Leads 3-0)
Prop #1: Stephen Curry, Over 27.5 Points
Stephen Curry has scored 31 points and 32 points over the last two games. He’s done so by converting at least 50% from the field in each contest. It makes sense that he would score at least 28 points in a series-clinching victory tomorrow night. Curry is averaging 27.1 PPG on 45.9% this postseason but has certainly put up more points and done so more efficiently over the last few games.
Prop #2: Luka Doncic, Over 3.5 Threes
Luka has drained nine three-pointers over the last two games. He’s knocked down at least four threes in three of his last four contests. Facing elimination and hoping to not let down the home crowd in back-to-back home playoff games, Doncic will convert at least four baskets from downtown in Game 4.
Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, and the Miami Heat held their own against the Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Likewise, Andrew Wiggins and Stephen Curry led the Warriors to a 112-87 blowout over Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. Tonight, the Celtics play their second game on the road against the Heat. On Friday night, the Mavericks will look to bounce back after shooting horrifically in Game 1.
Let’s take a look at the best bets for the two NBA Conference Final Game 2 matchups set for 8:30 PM EST. tonight and 9:00 PM EST. tomorrow night.
Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 4:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.
Best Bets of the Night
Game: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat -2 (MIA Leads 1-0)
After a nail-biting series with the Milwaukee Bucks that the Celtics won in grandiose fashion, Boston conceded Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat. Tonight, they play Game 2 of the series at the FTX Arena and hope to bounce back from Tuesday’s 11-point loss. One of the principal reasons for their defeat in Game 1 was the absence of Marcus Smart (foot sprain) and Al Horford (health & safety protocols). It remained a relatively close game until the third quarter in which the Celtics were outscored 14-3 to begin the second half. Derrick White filled in for Marcus Smart and was terribly inefficient from the field. He scored three points (1-4 FG) and had four assists in 29 minutes filling in for the Defensive Player of the Year. In contrast, Max Struss and Gabe Vincent did a terrific job of filling in for Kyle Lowry, combining for 28 points on 9-of-19 shooting. In addition, Tyler Herro had a good night with a pivotal 18 points (7-15 FG) off the bench. Fortunately for the Celtics, both Smart and Horford are expected to return tonight.
Head Coach Ime Udoka indicated to reporters today that Smart was probable to play this evening. Horford was cleared of health and safety protocols today making him available for tonight’s contest. For those of you who have watched the Celtics this postseason, Horford and Smart have upped their play and have been absolutely integral to the team’s success. Tonight, let’s take the Boston Celtics to take a game on the road in the same fashion that they took two road games from the Bucks in the last series.
The Pick: Boston Celtics ML +108
Tonight's Best NBA Player Props
Game: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat -2 (MIA Leads 1-0)
Prop#1: Gabe Vincent Over 9.5 Points
Prop#2: Al Horford Over 9.5 Points
Tomorrow Night's Best NBA Bet
Game: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State -6 (GSW Leads 1-0)
Dallas was annihilated by Golden State in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. This comes after the Mavs blew out the Phoenix Suns on the road in impressive fashion, punching their ticket to the next round of the playoffs for a series against the Warriors. Golden State shot an impressive 56.1% from the field in the opening game and finished with 112 points. Just as important as the offensive production, Golden State clamped down on defense. The Warriors contained Luka Doncic, who converted just six of his 18 field goals on his way to 20 points. Andrew Wiggins did an excellent job guarding the young playmaker. Luka's teammates didn't help out much either as the Mavericks shot 36% from the field in Game 1, and 22.9% from downtown (11-48 3PT FG) for just 87 points on the night.
While I think the Warriors will win again on Friday night, expect the Mavericks to keep things more interesting after such an abysmal night shooting from the field. Dallas will make the adjustments needed to make this a competitive Game 2 in the Bay area.