Are the Rockets the New Favorites Over the Warriors?
In their most recent game, the Houston Rockets win streak came to an end. They had won seventeen straight games before losing 108-105 to the Toronto Raptors. The streak could not go on forever and it propelled the Rockets to the top spot in the Western Conference. So far this season the Rockets have a pair of fourteen game win streaks. This has created the perception that the Warriors reign in the Western Conference may soon be coming to an end. It is hard to place the Rockets over the Warriors because they are unproven. There are a couple of factors that show this could be the year for the Rockets.
In the offseason the Rockets acquired Chris Paul from the Los Angeles Clippers. James Harden and Paul have been able to bond quickly and problem free. In the past they have both been ball dominate stars, but this year they’ve both made sacrifices to make it work. As a result they’re averaging seventeen assists a game, the most by any backcourt in the NBA. This doesn’t just bring out the best in Harden and Paul, but everyone on the team. In three matchups against the Warriors this season, the Rockets have won two of them. The passing ability this team has shown also opens up shots for everyone else like Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson. It’s not just the passing that has made this team so great.
In thirty three games with Paul, Harden, and Capella on the floor, the Rockets have won thirty two games. They have also won eighteen games when they’ve made at least nineteen three pointers. They’re a threat from deep and in the paint. One big reason for that is the play of Clint Capela. Last year Capela averaged eight rebounds and 12.6 points a game. This year he’s taken his game to another level and is averaging eleven rebounds and fourteen points a game. He is establishing himself as one of the best young centers in the game, making the Rockets much harder to beat. He leads the NBA in field goal percentage and could become the first Rocket in franchise history to lead the league in field goal percentage for a season. His shooting efficiency seems to have brushed off on the rest of the team.
The Rockets have the best offense in the league, and by seasons end could go down as the best offense in league history. They have the highest offensive rating in the league and are averaging almost 26 free throws a game. What makes the Rockets so good is the talent of Harden and Paul combined with the offensive scheme of head coach Mike D’Antoni. They shoot the most three pointers in the league, forcing other teams to guard them on the perimeter. This makes it easier for the Rockets to drive to the basket, as other teams don’t want to give up the three point shot. The Rockets are so good because of their talent and the way they play together.
James Harden is having another MVP caliber performance, but this year with Chris Paul the Rockets are an improved team. Their shooting and defense has improved, making them more dangerous. There is a good chance the Rockets and Warriors will meet in the playoffs. When that happens it will be a series NBA fans will not want to miss.