WHY ROCKETS WON OR WHY WARRIORS LOST? REVIEW OF WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS GAME 5.
It’s not that often to see such a low scoring basketball games twice in a row between two best offensive teams in NBA:
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS Offensive rating – Regular season 112.3 (1st in NBA) and play-offs 109.3 (2nd in NBA);
HOUSTON ROCKETS Offensive rating – Regular season 112.2 (2nd in NBA) and play-offs 108.6 (3rd in NBA).
Both teams has huge offensive potential but as it’s well known:
OFFENSE WINS GAMES, DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS… In this case I would say rather the team who will be able to show their offensive potential first again while keeping defense at the same level will win series and there’s not much time left for Dubs to do it.
REASONS WHY WON GAME 5:
- GREAT INDIVIDUAL AND TEAM DEFENSE (help/recover/rotations). Ability to SWITCH effectively and doing great job by defending Warriors ISO situations. Aggressive defense by Rockets was one of the reasons why Warriors committed 18 turnovers in game 5.
Few of many examples of great defense by Rockets.
- NOT ONLY HARDEN. Despite James Harden’s historically poor three-point shooting night (3p. 0/11!) CP3 too leadership role in 2nd half by scoring points (18 of 20 points in 2nd half), controlling team’s offense and creating opportunities for teammates. CP3 was great at attacking bigger defenders with his speed after Warriors used to SWITCH most of PNRs.
CP3 vs. West = Drive + lay-up.
CP3 vs Bell. Creates his own 3-point shot. 3 points.
Excellent game for GORDON especially 4/4 QT – 10 points (2p. 1/1, 3p. 1/1. 1p. 5/5) making all his shot attempts + bringing energy and leadership both offensively and defensively in moments when it was needed the most!
Also Capela played very effectively both defensively and offensively (12 pts + 14 reb FG 5/6) and Green shot well from 3-point line (3/5).
Anyway Rockets offense was far from great but their toughness and aggressiveness on the both ends of the floor allows them to win defending champions even shooting only 29/78 (37.2%) FG and 13/43 (30.2%) from 3-point line… As I mentioned earlier both teams has huge offensive potential.
Both in G4 and G5 Warriors fouled Rockets more.
Rockets won all the games in this series when they had more free-throw attempts than Warriors and free-throw attempts difference especially in last 2 games was huge. It’s great to see Houston winning defending champions not only because of making three-pointers!
- END OF GAME SITUATIONS. Rockets make better decisions and take their chances in the last few minutes of the game. Both in game G4 and G5 Rockets have won last 3 minutes of the game: Game 4 – 4:3, Game 5 – 6:5…
- STRATEGY TO “SWITCH” ALL OFF-BALL & ON-BALL SCREENS. WARRIORS – BALL MOVEMENT to ISO. Winners usually don’t change strategy if it works. By switching all screens Houston affects Golden State offense turning them into ISO team instead of being BALL-MOVEMENT team.
- P.J. TUCKER. The player who might be under-rated in Rockets success in last 2 games. Similar height and weight as former NBA star Charles Barkley maybe less athletic but with ability to shoot behind the arc.
Tucker played the most minutes of all Rockets players both in Game 4 (44:08) Game 5 (42:14) and had the best +/- +14 (G5) and +21 (G4+G5) which is also the best of all Houston players in last 2 games.
His versatility cause lot of problems for opponents – ability to defend multiple positions, rebounding, great passing and spreading the floor offensively makes him very valuable player especially for type of offense coach Mike D’Antoni is playing.
REASONS WHY LOST GAME 5:
The last time when Golden State have lost 2 games in a row and opposite team’s FG% is lower than 40% in both of games was almost 6 years ago…
10.11.2012 vs Lakers: FG 40% 77:101
11.11.2012 vs Nuggets: FG 38.1% 101:107 (OT)
- UNFORCED TURNOVERS. Lot of times it wasn’t about Rockets defensive efforts that much as for themselves making bad decisions…
More turnovers = more easy baskets for opponents.
Just a few examples of unforced turnovers by Warriors.
- WARRIORS CAN’T FIND OFFENSIVE RHYTHM. 1) Because of great Houston defense and strategy to “switch” all screens turning them into ISO team instead of BALL-MOVEMENT team. 2) Simply because of their best players not playing well and struggling with poor shot selection. Curry was turned to 2-point shooter instead of 3-point shooter.
- NOT EFFECTIVE ENOUGH OF TAKING ADVANTAGE OF SIZE/SPEED MISMATCH SITUATIONS. Since there are lot of switching.. Why not to create size advantage situations vs. CP3? Even he’s not the weakest player in NBA, the best offensive team in the world should take advantage of CP3 in the low post or another way because of his lack of size. It will affect CP3 offense because of fatigue and get him in foul trouble… If they switch WHY NOT take advantage of it all the time???
It’s not about bad shooting night but it’s about creating better shots in these situations.
KD vs CP3. Durant should do better job of using his size advantage vs CP3 in the low post. Especially in Game 5.
Livingston vs CP3 in the low post.
- CURRY/DURANT/THOMPSON INABILITY TO BE CONSISTENT AND PLAY WELL TOGETHER AT THE SAME TIME. In my previous article about G4 I tried to show how the importance of Curry playing well affects whole Warriors team offensively that much.
- TERRIBLE DECISIONS IN END OF GAME SITUATIONS. No comments.
WHY WARRIORS STILL CAN WIN SERIES?
Teams that win Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series win 83 percent of the time.
Good thing is that there are 17 percent left and I think that similar to Eastern Conference Finals there is optimism for team who has lost Game 5 – both for Warriors and Cavaliers. It’s not over yet.
- PLAY-OFF SERIES EXPERIENCE & CONFIDENCE. Harden and CP3 has no ring yet. It can help Dubs having “winning mentality”.
- THE BEST OFFENSIVE TEAM IN LEAGUE HAS HUGE POTENTIAL OFFENSIVELY. They simply can’t play 3 below average games in a row offensively against one opponent.
- THERE’S NO WAY BACK and they have been in SITUATIONS like this BEFORE!
- GAME 6. CP3 OUT & IGOUDALA BACK? Mike D’Antoni already shorten his players rotation to 6-7 and CP3 injury is very very bad news for Rockets. I can’t emphasize his importance for team’s offense.
Sorry Rockets fans but only scenario for Rockets to win Game 6 I see is having excellent 3-point shooting night. My prediction is easy win for Golden State in Game 6 by 10 or more points.
Thanks for reading. CoachKris@HUPU.com