Pregame Post-Ups: Houston's Physical Defense Not to Be Overlooked

Tuesday, Feb. 11 - Celtics at Rockets

Pregame – Houston's Physical Defense Not to Be Overlooked

HOUSTON – The Houston Rockets may have the smallest rotation in the NBA, but what they lack in length, they make up for in physicality.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens, on three separate occasions, referred to Houston’s defense as a group of “linebackers” ahead of Tuesday night’s matchup at Toyota Center. And those linebackers, such as 6-foot-5, 245-pound center P.J. Tucker, will drive you into the ground if you’re not ready.

“They're really good defensively as far as when they go small, they're just so physical,” Stevens said ahead of tip-off. “You think because they're small that most things are a good idea, but they're so strong. They're built like linebackers all the way across the board. So posting is tough against these guys, even for bigger wings or centers or whoever the case may be. So I think the movement is appropriate. We’ve gotta make sure that we do the right thing spacing wise, and we can't turn it over. If we turn it over, Harden gets run-outs.”

Stevens believes that Houston’s most “special” defensive trait is its ability to switch one through five. The key to combating such a system is to keep the ball moving at all times.

“You can’t stare at switches,” Stevens said. “You can’t post those guys out at 18 feet, which they push you out to … If you start staring at the post, you’re playing into their hands. If we start isolating and over-dribbling and all that stuff, it’s probably not a good sign for us.”

If the Celtics keep the ball moving, though, and don’t get caught staring at Houston’s constantly moving defense, they should find themselves in a good position to achieve success.

- Taylor Snow


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