Rockets Should Start Austin Rivers Over Clint Capela, Says Analyst

Getty Houston Rocket center Clint Capela and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green

It appears the frustrations over the Houston Rockets struggles on defense at points against the Golden State Warriors in Games 1 and 2 have led to the media pointing fingers a bit. Specifically, a fair amount of the blame has gone in the direction of Rockets center Clint Capela.

While Capela has dealt with his fair share of struggles at points through the first two games, it has gotten so drastic that ESPN analyst and former player Tracy McGrady is calling for a change. During a recent episode of The Jump, McGrady addressed how Capela has been taken out of games and said Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni should change the team’s starting lineup.

McGrady wants to see Austin Rivers take over for Capela and have P.J. Tucker shift to center.

“Going into Game 3, Mike D’Antoni has to make an adjustment to this lineup. You’re going to have to put another guard, another penetrator or shooter in this lineup. I would change the starting lineup. I would take Clint Capela out of this lineup and matchup against this Hampton Five.” McGrady said.

“I would move in Austin Rivers. I would put P.J. Tucker as a big and I would just have five smalls out there to be able to penetrate. James [Harden] is able to have open space, and if they want to help out I’ve got more shooters out on the basketball court, as opposed to having Clint Capela out there clogging up the lane.”

Rockets’ Defensive Improvement With Clint Capela Off Floor

Shortly after McGrady made his comments on Capela and the overall situation, ESPN revealed a statistical breakdown of Houston’s numbers with him both on and off the floor. Jackie MacMullan broke them down, and there was an interesting argument which stood out from the comparison.

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Per The Jump, the Warriors’ Hamptons Five lineup (Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala) has been far better against the Rockets with Capela on the floor. They have a point differential of +19, a defensive efficiency of 96.8 and a net efficiency of +32.7.

But with Capela off the floor, that same Warriors lineup is -3 in point differential against the Rockets with a defensive efficiency of 127.9 and net efficiency of -7.0.

Clint Capela’s Numbers vs. Warriors & Austin Rivers’ Outlook

The numbers above are hard to ignore from a defensive perspective, but it gets even tougher to defend when looking at Capela’s production on the offensive end through two games. In Game 1, Capela finished with just four points, six rebounds and two assists while posting a -17 net rating in the game. It is worth noting that Rivers didn’t see the floor in that game.

With that said, the 24-year-old center’s offensive numbers did improve in Game 2, as he finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds on 5-of-7 shooting. He also added two blocks and two assists, but fouled out and finished the game with a -19 net rating, the worst of any Rockets player.

Rivers played 24 minutes in that game and scored 14 points with two assists and one rebound. The biggest impact came from his outside shooting, as the former Duke product made 5-of-8 field goals and 4-of-6 attempts from beyond the arc.

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