Top 3 Reasons Rockets Went From Heroes to Zeroes

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The Houston Rockets were riding high after a comeback win over the Boston Celtics five games ago. That win gave them their sixth win in a row and 10 out of 12. Since then they have lost four straight games three of those to sub .500 teams by wide margins.

The Rockets have went from contenders to the joke of the league in less than two weeks. There are many reasons for this from bad bench play, to just plain bad luck. But there are three huge reasons why the Rockets are currently in the worst slump in years. Here are the three biggest reasons.

Houston Rockets 3-point shooting

Image result for Harden shooting three pointers vs orlando

The Rockets as everyone knows is a high volume 3-point shooting team. They have never been known as one of the best shooting teams in the league. Normally their average hovers around 34 or 35 percent. When they were on their winning streak it was closer to 40 percent. Since the win in Boston, that percentage has plummeted to .291 percent. In that time frame, they are next to last in 3-point percentage. Surprisingly enough the Bucks are the only team-worst during that time. The Rockets starters are shooting a frigid 28.3 from downtown during this losing streak. James Harden is shooting only 20.0 percent from 3-point range. For comparison, Russell Westbrook is shooting 30 percent.

The Rockets are not a lockdown defensive-minded team like the Bucks or Lakers so going through a prolonged shooting slump is more time than not going to lead to a losing streak. The Rockets again this year shoot the most 3-pointers of any team in the league. Even a one percent drop in shooting percentage can lead to trouble let alone six to seven percent.

Mike D’Antoni not adjusting his game plan

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For most of D’Antoni coaching career he has been called a offensive genius, a coach who has revolutionize the NBA. There have also been criticism like playing his starters too many minutes and not willing to adjust his coaching style when the game isn’t going his way. When the Rockets decided to go all in on small ball it was obivious they were going to rely even more on 3-point shooting. That strategy works great when the Rockets are making more than 35 percent of their shots from downtown. When they are shooting under 30 percent it looks like one of the worst offenses in the league.

Every team goes through these slumps the problem is other coaches will adjust their game plan. When the Bucks, for example, are not making shots from deep they will instead attack the paint or set screens for players like Middleton and even Lopez. The Rockets are stubborn to a fault when it comes to adjustment. Rarely will they take the ball out of Harden’s hands and have him play more of a catch and shoot style of game. Since they rarely adjust teams can load up on Harden at the top of the key and virtually take him out of the game. They have run a couple of plays where Jeff Green brought the ball up and had Harden come off a pick but for some reason, those types of plays are few and far between. The Rockets have to be able to adjust on the fly especially when the 3-pointer is not fallen.

James Harden

Image result for james harden in magic loss

The Rockets are a two superstar team there entire game plan is predicated on James Harden and Westbrook. When one star is not playing well especially since the Rockets lack playmakers the whole system can fall apart. For most of 2020 Harden has not looked himself but especially the last four games. Harden as mentioned earlier is shooting under 20 percent from downtown. That is bad in itself but factor in that he is still shooting over 10 3-pointers a game and you can see why this is a major concern. Harden scoring average during this losing streak has also dipped under 27 points a game and his field goal percentage is at 32.5 percent a game. Harden doesn’t seem as aggressive when facing double teams he seems hesitant and out of rhythm. Westbrook for example is still pushing the pace and getting to the rim but even when Harden does get to the basket he is not finishing.

If Harden doesn’t pick up his play this could lead to a complete collapse in the standings and a quick playoff exit. The Rockets absolutely can not win if Harden doesn’t improve his overall play. His effort on defense and running the offense has to be better for the Rockets to snap this losing streak.

Conclusion

The Rockets like their shooting are a streaky team. They were on a six-game winning streak prior to this four-game losing streak. The season isn’t completely lost yet they still have time to turn it around. The only way that will happen though is with improvement from the coaching staff to its star players and bench unit. The Rockets have hit their worst stretch in years but if the three items in this article improve they can still salvage this season.

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