Score more points than the Warriors in at least one game. Sure, that would definitely be a way not to get swept.
But how do we score more points than the Warriors? Well, that’s what I am here to discuss.
The first thing we should ponder is Steph Curry’s status. After sitting out a game two win for the Warriors, I seriously doubt he plays in game three. Frankly, he may sit out game four as well if the Warriors win game three.
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The rest of this post is assuming Steph sits out game three. If he plays in game three (and then likely game four), the Rockets will be swept. Trust me, they will.
So, assuming Steph sits out, the Rockets should have a chance to steal a game or two.
We saw what the Warriors were like without Steph in game two and that’s beatable. The Rockets weren’t at their best and the Warriors got some unlikely contributions from Andre Igoudala’s three-ball. Houston was in it the entire game until the final stretch in the fourth.
The Warriors played well. Credit to them, they were certainly the better team on the court game two. They outhustled the Rockets on every play and just seemed to enjoy playing the game a lot more than the guys from Houston.
The most important step to defeating the Warriors in game three is making adjustments. That means Donatas Motiejunas needs to be played sparingly and Jason Terry and Corey Brewer can’t see the court. While D-Mo is uber-effective in the post, he simply can’t keep up with Draymond Green or whoever is playing at the four for the Warriors.
The same applies to Jason Terry and Corey Brewer. While at least Terry can score here and there for the Rockets, he’s a liability on the defensive end. Brewer on the other hand has been lost since the Warriors playoffs series last season and is currently a negative on both sides of the court.
JB Bickerstaff needs to play K.J. McDaniels and Andrew Goudelock 15-25 minutes per game, over the two veterans. Those two, along with Michael Beasley and Clint Capela should be the only guys coming off the bench for Houston.
Next, the Rockets need to work on avoiding the screens. While a few illegal screens were called by the Warriors, the Rockets did themselves no favors by running into screens instead of trying to get past them. Several times Rockets defenders tried to attack the screen instead of going around the screener. If you force the screener to try and adjust his body to you as you try to avoid him, then you’re more likely to get the moving screen called.
Now that we’ve taken care of the rotation and screens, let’s delve a bit into the offense.
Simply put, if Trevor Ariza and other Rockets can’t hit their open threes, then Houston has no chance. Also, it may be wise to feed Dwight Howard a bit more. While he’s not the best post presence, it seems to me that if you get him involved on offense, he’s more likely to get involved defensively. While that shouldn’t be the case, it is and the Rockets need to try and get him a few early touches.
James Harden also needs to step up and be the star he is. He spent much of game two at the line, but struggled to shoot the rock and his passes were off-point most of the game. Howard was ready for a few lobs which Harden simply missed. That combination is lethal and the Rockets need to exploit it more.
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The Rockets do have a chance to take game three and/or four if Steph sits, they just need to play better. For the most part the effort is there, but it could certainly be higher. They need to win way more 50/50 balls than they did in the first two games. Second chance points also kill the Rockets and they need all five guys crashing the glass on the defensive end.
A game is there for the taking if the Rockets play well. Thursday night is probably the easiest one to win since they’ll be at home and more like than not playing against a Steph-less Warriors. If Steph’s back however, all bets are off.
Let’s see what Bickerstaff and the Rockets can conjure up for their game three tilt.
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