Jeremy Lin Continues to Play Key Role in Rockets' Playoff Push

John RozumCorrespondent IMarch 25, 2013

Jeremy Lin remains a strong contributor for the Rockets.
Jeremy Lin remains a strong contributor for the Rockets.USA TODAY Sports

Unsurprisingly, the Houston Rockets have maintained a postseason spot and Jeremy Lin continues to have a significant impact.

Sporting an 8-3 record thus far in March, Houston has edged up to the No. 7 position in the Western Conference. Holding a three-game lead over Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers as of Monday, Lin and the Rockets also only sit one half game back of the Golden State Warriors.

Their 39-31 record would be tied for fifth in the East.

Point guard Jeremy Lin has been a big part of Houston's success, especially as the team heads into the home stretch.

In an article by the Associated Press via USA Today last week, coach Kevin McHale spoke of Lin's impact after the victory over the Utah Jazz that sparked their current three-game win streak:

I thought that Jeremy made some big hoops coming down the stretch when we needed them. They were really intent on staying with James [Harden] in the second half and really not giving him a lot of room, so Jeremy really broke free.

And despite Lin's numbers not wowing in the stat sheet over the past two games, his court presence remains crucial for Houston's overall output.

Lin accounted for 11 assists between the wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs. Without question, he was outshined by James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik, but Lin isn't going to put up 20-plus points on a game-by-game basis either—although he certainly has proven the capability.

Houston possesses the talent around him courtesy of the aforementioned players to challenge the best in its conference. Lin's role is to simply remain solid with making assists and knocking down freebies when at the free-throw line.

Beckley Mason of the New York Times wrote of Lin in late February and puts it best by saying:

It is a complicated role for Lin. He not only has to be aggressive at all times, but also has to know how and when to get out of the way and let Harden run the show. Lin’s role parallels the one Derek Fisher once occupied with the Lakers next to Kobe Bryant, though the teams’ playing styles are much different. Lin must steady the offense while also regularly yielding control of it.

This is why Houston sits in its current spot as April nears.

Lin possesses the wherewithal to score not only at will, but also on a when-needed basis. That reliability becomes a competitive advantage for the Rockets as the season wears on, because now opponents must defend multiple scorers.

With the threat of Harden taking over at any time, though, Houston's offense brings a personnel and schematic advantage for various game situations. Factor in less pressure on Lin to perform with playmakers such as Harden, Parsons and Asik and it allows him to delegate accordingly.

Ranking No. 1 in scoring offense (106.4) and No. 5 in assists per game (23.3), the Rockets are a more dangerous postseason team with Lin orchestrating the point. Regardless of the numbers, his contributions and unselfish play increase Houston's odds for a strong playoff appearance.