Winning Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals by beating the Golden State Warriors by 22 points had to have the Houston Rockets feeling confident going into Game 3 last night. Unfortunately for the Rockets, that confidence quickly turned into bad shots, missed easy shots, turnovers, and a lack of defense. Houston played one of the worst games they’ve played all year, getting destroyed by the Warriors 126-85. The best team in the league just got beat by 41 points. How did this happen? An all around lack of effort.
Head Coach Mike D’Antoni called the Rockets “soft” after the Game 3 loss. When I hear that word, I take it to mean they didn’t really try. It looked like the Rockets weren’t really playing last night. As I mentioned above, the Rockets took a lot of bad shots, missed easy shots, made a lot of bad passes, and didn’t play defense. As usual, I dove into the numbers for each of these categories to see how truly “soft” the Rockets played.
In my mind, the way Houston has played the entire season is the reason for so many bad shots. I personally hate iso ball. I think it’s pointless. There’s a reason you have four other teammates on the floor. I know everyone loves to score, but to me it brings me the same satisfaction when I get an assist. Winning brings even more satisfaction. I can’t stand seeing players stand there and do pointless dribbling between the legs and then drive or jack up a three point shot with five or less seconds on the shot clock. That’s exactly what I saw the Houston Rockets do last night. Taking these shots is one of the main reasons why they shot 39.5% from the field and 32.4% from three point range. Choosing to stand around dribbling rather than moving the ball, and then shooting at the last second is pure laziness. Being lazy doesn’t lead to good shots.
Missed Easy Shots
Speaking of being lazy, the Rockets didn’t give a good effort on their easy shots. I often saw the Rockets have an easy lay up attempt or shot close to the basket, but they’d miss. It didn’t seem like they had any desire to finish. The Rockets 40 points in the paint was their lowest so far this series. It could have been a lot more had they actually given their easy shots some effort. If I remember correctly, I believe Chris Paul was under the basket all alone and received a pass from one of his teammates. He goes up for the easy shot, but misses. The ball gets tipped for another potential shot, but that doesn’t go in either. Instead of easy points for the Rockets, the Warriors got another possession. This happened multiple times throughout the game.
One of the biggest areas where Houston lacked effort was their passing. Every player who played for the Rockets in Game 3, except for Clint Capela, had at least one turnover. Houston had 20 total turnovers as a team. To make those 20 turnovers even worse, they allowed the Warriors to score 28 points from them. It was careless passing by the Rockets throughout the entire game. Houston finished with less assists (19) than they did turnovers (20).
Lack of Defense
Houston allowed Golden State to shoot 52.2% from the field and 40.6% from three point range. They were getting open looks all throughout the game. The Warriors capped off an 11-2 run to finish the first quarter by hitting an uncontested three point shot. Having only three steals all game is another indicator of their lack of effort defensively. Curry had 35 points, Durant had 25, and then four other players scored 10 or more. Houston couldn’t stop anyone on the Warriors from scoring.
Lack of Effort Will Be Their Downfall
Houston’s lack of effort all around in Game 3 was not a good sign for them moving forward in this series. They allowed the Golden State Warriors to gain even more confidence in themselves, which you never want to give to any team, but especially not the defending champions. If Houston doesn’t step up their effort in Game 4, this series is done. Houston won’t come back from being down 3-1. I want Houston to look like they want to go to the NBA Finals, because right now they’re not showing it. I can tell the Warriors want it more. You’d think a team who hasn’t won a championship and wants to get one would be giving a little more effort, but I’m not seeing it from the Rockets.