After struggling for stretches of 2014, Jeremy Lin is playing his best basketball of the year. Despite his improved play, though, the point guard isn’t getting the majority of minutes at point guard.
Patrick Beverley remains the starter for the Houston Rockets. He came off the bench for all of last season, but became a starter in the playoffs. Though the 25-year-old has provided a strong defensive presence for the team, an argument can be made that Lin hasn’t seen enough playing time this season.
Head coach Kevin McHale has played Lin just 22.2 minutes per game in March. In the previous four months, he hadn’t averaged less than 27.1 minutes. The point guard was battling back spasms after the All-Star Break. However, he failed to miss a game, and his minutes remain lower than normal, even though he appears to be healthy.
On the offensive end, Lin has outshined Beverley in March. He’s averaging 11.3 points and 2.8 assists on 46.6 percent field goal shooting, and 84.4 percent from the free-throw line. Beverley is scoring 12 points per game, with the exact same assist average, while playing nearly 10 more minutes per contest. Beverley is shooting 42.4 percent in March, and 75.9 percent from the free-throw line.
Most importantly, the Rockets have performed better with Lin on the court. In Houston’s last seven games, the team has outscored its opponents by 51 points with Lin on the floor. During that time, the Rockets have been outscored by two, when Beverley has been playing.
Because Lin and James Harden are both at their best with the ball in their hands, it may make sense that McHale brings the Harvard graduate off the bench. Harden is the Rockets’ top scorer, and he’s on the floor for over 38 minutes per game. Still, McHale may have to look into giving Lin more playing time, if the recent trend continues. The threat of two prominent scorers in the backcourt could prove to be a key weapon in the postseason.
The Rockets have played like an elite team since the start of the year. They will likely hold, at least, the No.4 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.The Rockets are expected to contend with the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, and Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference.
Lin remains an important commodity off the bench, and McHale may need to maximize his minutes in order for the team to make a stronger run at the NBA Finals.