By Lachard Binkley
The Houston Rockets looked like world-beaters in games 1 and 2. Going up 2-0 the Rockets had a chance to take a stranglehold on the series. Unfortunately, the Rockets did not follow with the same effort in the next two games. Now we have a series tied at 2-2 and adjustments needed to be made for the Rockets to take game 5.
Increase in defensive intensity
The Rockets defense was excellent in game 1 and especially in game 2. The Rockets defense was the number 1 reason the Rockets won game 2. I ask NBA Champion and one of the original stretch fours Matt Bullard his opinion on changes the Rockets need to make.
“Not sure what the adjustments will be but I’d like to see the defensive effort of Gm1,2”
The Rockets gave up 119 and 117 points in games 2 and 3. The Thunder were able to get to the basket at will especially Dennis Schroder and Gilgeous Alexander. Which in turn was the main reason( not the only one) the Rockets were outshot at the free-throw line 28-10 in attempts?
Houston Rockets Bench production
The Rockets were able to get 42 bench points in the game 1 win. In-game 2 32 points. In-game 3 26 points with 22 coming from Jeff Green and only four from Austin Rivers and Ben McLemore. Game 4 lost only 13 points off the bench. The Rockets are already playing a short rotation of eight players with no Westbrook and you cant have two of the eight players giving zero production.
Houston Rockets must push the pace
The Rockets pace of play has improved mightily over the last year. Of course it can directly be attributed to Westbrook joining the Rockets. The Rockets have a distinct advantage in speed in this series. Especially when Steven Adams, Chris Paul or Danilo Gallanari are on the court. By getting down the court on fast break that opens up lanes for Harden and gives the Rockets even more space on their 3-pointers.
Several times last game you could hear Mike D’Antoni imploring his team to pick up the pace. This also goes hand and hand with the defense if you get stops it is a lot easier to run. This will also make it easier for Harden who can go downhill and not try to score against the entire OKC defense.
The Houston Rockets will be without Westbrook for game 5. There is still no timetable on his return so the Rockets have will have to revert back to game 1 and game 2 defense and get bench production to pull out a win.
Game 5 Wednesday 5:30 CT
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