Mike D’Antoni not willing to risk it all for 8 wins
NBA teams already in playoff contention are expected to tread carefully during the resumption of the 2019-20 campaign. Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni is going for broke, hoping to win all eight games remaining in the regular season, but not at the cost of running his players through the ground.
According to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, an enthusiastic D’Antoni is eager to rack up the Ws, but not at the cost of overplaying his key players.
That stands to reason, considering D’Antoni opted to commit for a small-ball lineup after trading Clint Capela prior to the deadline. Ever since, it’s been a heavy dose of the Russell Westbrook-James Harden backcourt and plenty of the 6-foot-6 PJ Tucker at center.
D’Antoni has acknowledged in the past that playing Tucker at center is a boon and a curse, as he has to closely watch his minutes to avoid fatigue.
Former Sixth Man of the Year Eric Gordon is finally back at full health and happy to be so. The marksman noted the small ball system should only help the Rockets make things easier for one another throughout the restart.
As far as D’Antoni is concerned, his future on the sidelines was also at potential risk during this restart initiative, as coaches older than 60 (D’Antoni is 69) could have been asked to coach from a distance, away from the sidelines, due to at-risk concerns of contracting the coronavirus.
D’Antoni noted he hasn’t heard a peep from the league since it was first brought up, something that bodes well for him remaining in the sidelines:
“Crickets!,” said the Rockets coach with a laugh, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “Which is a good thing. I haven’t heard anything and hopefully I don’t hear anything. They might be trying to get me; I’m not answering my phone of anything, so I’ll be in Orlando.”
Conditions aside, it seems D’Antoni is feeling confident about the restart, now that the season creeps closer and closer.
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