The biggest mismatch of Game 1? Stotts over McHale

The biggest mismatch of Game 1? Stotts over McHale
April 21, 2014, 9:45 am
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Stotts on LA: We rode him, he responded

HOUSTON -- If the Trail Blazers stole Game 1 of their first-round playoff series from the Houston Rockets Sunday night in the Toyota Center, there's little doubt who was the mastermind of that heist.

Portland Coach Terry Stotts outcoached Houston's Kevin McHale Sunday night. And it wasn't even close.

The Blazers were ready for this task. They knew what they wanted to do defensively -- whether it was Hack-A-Howard or push James Harden off his sweet spots on the floor -- and offensively. Buried two or three times, Portland just kept coming back. Stotts never blinked even once through the craziness of this game, from physical altercations to referee madness to being six points behind early in the overtime period.

Houston, though, offered several shaking-my-head moments that made you wonder just how prepared the Rockets were for this series.

How, specifically, did the Rockets expect to defend LaMarcus Aldridge? Surely they didn't expect inexperienced and physically overwhelmed Terrence Jones to handle him by himself all night, did they? And did they ever talk about how Aldridge likes to go into the lane with his right hand from the left box? Did they think about a double-team a little earlier in the game? Or using Dwight Howard on him earlier? And what about that last play of the game? What the heck was Harden trying to do? And why not get the ball to Chandler Parsons a little more in the second half?

My goodness, the Rockets watched Damian Lillard and Aldridge combine for 77 points and 27 rebounds!

Lots of questions... there always are. But when you lose a game you should have won -- and the Rockets seemingly had it under control two or three times -- those questions become more pointed. The playoffs bring a big spotlight and sometimes they illuminate some very small things, unfairly or not.  But that's all part of the job.

And so we know now the next move is McHale's and he has a couple of days to right the ship and make some decisions.

How will the Rockets adjust?