Stephen Silas focused on teaching as COVID losses force Rockets to go younger

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  • Houston Rockets
    Houston Rockets
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Stephen Silas
    American basketball player-coach

On Monday, the Houston Rockets suddenly found themselves in a situation that was unfamiliar to their team but has rapidly become the norm throughout the rest of the league over the past month.

Houston went into its game in Charlotte down four key players to their rotation due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Jae’Sean Tate, DJ Augustin, KJ Martin, and Garrison Mathews were unavailable after test results were apparently positive for COVID-19. Rockets head coach Stephen Silas also decided not to play guards Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green in back-to-back games due to injury maintenance considerations, which left Houston’s bench depleted.

With a limited number of rotation players, Silas found himself playing a lineup consisting of five rookies, and four of those players are not of legal age to purchase alcohol in the United States. Usman Garuba (19), Alperen Sengun (19), Daishen Nix (19), and Josh Christopher (20) all found themselves on the court together for the Rockets at some point in the 123-99 road defeat (recap) to the Charlotte Hornets.

It is hard to compete with a team like the Hornets, who have the second-ranked offense in the NBA, when you have a healthy rotation. It becomes especially problematic when you have rookies who have not played together consistently trying to figure each other out.

Coach Silas knew coming into the game that he and his staff would have to adjust to the younger players that were going to play a significant number of minutes on Monday.

“It changes as far as teaching and making sure you are not overreacting or getting onto guys for mistakes,” Silas said when asked about how his coaching style would have to change due to the suddenly younger rotation. “When you have so many young guys on the floor, it is more about teaching them for the moment instead of scolding them.”

Houston will not yet have time to develop continuity with their younger players through practice, since they head back to Toyota Center on Tuesday to face the Los Angeles Lakers. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. CST.

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