Tag Archives: Rockets

Houston Rockets Fall To Warriors In Game 1

Houston Rockets, Warriors playoffs

James Harden’s great performance wasn’t enough to hold off Warriors. Photo Credit: Kyle Terada, USA today sports

The Houston Rockets let game 1 slip away

The Houston Rockets had the Warriors right where they wanted them in the first and second quarters of game 1. The Rockets quickly quieted the crowd and kept them quiet as the they controlled the majority of the first quarter.

Two and a half minutes into the game the Rockets found themselves 9-2 on top of the Warriors. That momentum was killed when the Jason Terry got an offense rebound and gave a nice bounce pass to Dwight but he lost the ball and the Warrior took it for a fast break lay up at their end.

The Warriors went on to take a 14-12 lead before the Rockets regained control of the game and finished the quarter with a 31-24 lead. Up until midway through the second quarter the Rockets looked like they were the favorites in this with with having as large as a 16 point lead.

Many people believed that the Rockets were going to get their doors blown off, in large part due to the lopsided 4-0 season series that the Warriors had against the Rockets. The Rockets have a chance to win this series, no matter if their chances are slim.

Heading into game 1 I thought that the Rockets were going to win the game because I thought they were going to have a few things going in their favor. The Rockets were coming off an incredible series comeback and I thought that was a huge confidence boost for the Rockets. I thought that they would bring that over into this series right off the start and punch the Warriors in the mouth unexpectedly.

The Rockets are no doubt a different team than the one the Warriors dominated in the regular season, but the Rockets are plagued with too many stretches of bad execution. Turnovers, careless/sloppy play, and bad execution is what this series is going to come down to for the Rockets.

If the Rockets are to win this series they will have to go through every single possession like it truly matters because against a team like the Warriors it does to a great extent.

The Rockets showed that they can hang with the Warriors, and frankly they should have won game 1 but didn’t because they couldn’t play enough clean basketball. The Warriors were feasting on the turnovers and bad plays made by the Rockets and that is what cost them the game.

The Warriors and Rockets have very similar styles, but the two biggest differences are that the Warriors take better care of the ball and they have a little bit better team depth. Because of this the Rockets have to play 40-45 minutes of good basketball to beat the Warriors, that is what its going to come down to.

I think it is a little disheartening that the Rockets couldn’t capitalize on a game in which James Harden finally had one of those MVP type games that he had much of the season. Trevor Ariza also kept up his great play on the the defense end and with his shooting, but nobody else stepped up.

Dwight Howard’s injury was a big hit to the Rockets’ defense and rebounding, and perhaps they find a way to win the game if he doesn’t get his knee injured. Howard tried to gut it out but I think McHale didn’t recognize how injured he was and stuck with him for too long. Continue reading

McHale, Rockets blow last play of game

Houston Rockets, Portland Trailblazers, nba, playoffs. Damien Lillard, Chandler Parsons

The Houston Rockets blow the final play, Lillard sinks dagger to end Rockets’ season. Photo Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer, USA Today Sports

The Houston Rockets come close, but blow the game with 0.9 seconds left.

The Houston Rockets fought valiantly and were able to take the lead 98-96 with 0.9 seconds left, but on the last play of the game allowed Damien Lillard to easily release and get off a 3-point shot for the win at the buzzer. It was  totally disheartening, crushing buzzer beating 3-pointer that ripped the hearts out of all Rockets fans.

One has to question the match-ups and the defensive strategy on the final possession of the game. Yes coach/coaching is going to take a lot of the blame when a team loses, but I haven’t been one to overly criticize McHale. However, this falls on him and the rest of the coaches.

Damien Lillard has hit a few buzzer beaters this season for the Blazers and the Rockets had to know he was most likely getting the ball. With 0.9 seconds there is no looking for the open man, the most skilled and versatile player is going to get that shot.

If Portland hits a tough 2 point shot it goes to overtime, but you absolutely cannot give up a 3 point shot to lose the game. McHale in the post game press conference said he specifically told the team no 3s. This raises a few questions about how the final played out.

Here were the match-ups at first before a timeout was called due to some confusion.

Initially Beverly is on Lillard, Lin on Williams, Parsons on Matthews, Harden on Aldridge (who knows how) and Howard guarding the inbound pass.

For some reason there was some confusion on the match-ups and Harden was on Aldridge. I think the Rockets would have been fine with the players they had on the floor. They just needed to rearrange Howard on Aldridge, Harden on Matthews, and Chandler Parsons guarding the pass.

Beverly is the best possible defender to stay with Lillard. NOT that Beverly can stay with Lillard, because he is so athletically quick and fast, but Beverly has the best chance out of anybody else on the Rockets to stick with him. The Trail Blazers had killed the Rockets, Beverly included, all series long setting screens for Lillard and letting him launch 3s. So this is something that could have been expected for Portland to do.

 

Here the Rockets are trying to get things straight during the timeout.

 

After the timeout the Rockets made a few changes, now Chandler Parsons is on Lillard, Beverly on Mo Williams, Dwight Howard on Aldridge, and Harden on Matthews.

I pointed out that all series long even Beverly had been getting caught on screens that resulted in Lillard hitting 3-pointers. And the screens were usually coming from Portland’s big men, on this particular play Mo Williams was on the screen.

Now if Beverly has trouble staying with and contesting Lillard on screens I don’t really understand the logic of putting a much slower and less agile Parsons on Lillard. I suppose the length over Lillard was why, but he has to be able to stick with Lillard first.

The second thing I don’t understand is why the Rockets didn’t switch defenders that they were guarding on the screen? The Rockets have been through these situations before, it even cost them a game against the Lakers during the season.

Mixing and matching players and having them switch would have been much easier to contest the Blazers’ player that got loose.

Maybe the Rockets were guessing that Mo Williams was going to end up with the last shot, and wanted Beverly on him? Who knows.

Lastly, McHale specifically said he told the team no 3s. So if that is the case it makes no sense that Terrance Jones is not blocking off the path to the 3-point line. Batum had a completely open passing lane to Lillard on the 3-pointer once he easily got away from the Rockets defense.

Terrance Jones is instead positioned to block a passing lane in the direction of Aldridge who is closer to the basket. So not only is there a bad match up for Parsons holding Lillard on the last play. And not only do the Rockets not switch on defense to better defend a man that got loose off of a screen. The Rockets also allow a totally open passing lane to the 3-point line to  the one Portland player who makes the most ridiculous and deflating 3-point shots.

It has been unbelievable all series long how Portland was able to hit so many incredible and improbable shots. No words.
Game footage courtesy of CSN Houston

Clutch City, Rockets Game 6

Houston Rockets, James Harden, Portland Trailblazers

James Harden must put the Rockets on his back. Photo Credit: Sam Forencich/NBAE/Getty Images

What a win tonight would do for the Rockets

Forcing a game 7 with a win tonight would give the Houston Rockets an opportunity to shock the entire city of Portland and re-create some real Clutch City magic. The people of Portland think that they have the series won, and the Blazers’ players feel confident going in (so they say).

Some talking heads in the media believe the pressure is on the Rockets, and others say it is more on the Blazers. I personally believe the pressure is all on Portland because if they manage to lose tonight, I don’t see any way that they would be able to recover after being up 3-1. Aside from the Blazers players being mentally fragile on a verge of collapse, the atmosphere at Toyota Center for a game 7 would put them at an incredible disadvantage.

Also if the Rockets can pull it off tonight, it would mean that they are rolling and that they have figured out how to beat the Trail Blazers. Going into the series the Rockets might have overlooked the Blazers and underestimated the fight that they had.

The Rockets know that they should have this series wrapped up already, and disciplined play at the end of games would have secured the series for them. But having backs against the wall may have been the wake up call the Rockets needed to take the series back.

James Harden has to be the best player on the court

In order for the Houston Rockets to complete the series comeback James Harden must be the best player on the court. He has had a rough series, but the Rockets need him to be the superstar he can be because they are only going to go as far as he takes them.

Harden has put up a decent stat line at the end of games, but has lacked the efficiently. If Harden is play making, hitting shots, getting to the free throw line and playing a little bit of the defense the Rockets will not lose this series

The Rockets soaked up all the rebounds in game 5, getting 14 more rebounds than Portland and that is going to be a key tonight. The Rockets also assisted on 23 plays so they well need to continue getting each other basketball and have several players with 15+ points again.

Jeremy Lin was huge off the bench two nights ago and will need a similar performance off the bench tonight. I don’t know that Lin can come up big again like that in back to back games, so it might Troy Daniels that shines . Turnovers were down in game 5, and the Rockets have to keep them down again to prevent Portland from capitalizing on them like they have a knack of doing.

The Rockets were fortunate that LaMarcus Aldridge was able to be taken out of the game getting in early foul trouble, along with Asik’s continued great defense on him. We can’t rely on Aldridge only scoring 8 points again, but the Rockets must try to replicate the blueprint from game 5 that took Aldridge out of his flow. If the Rockets can stop Aldridge from scoring at will, it will be difficult for the Blazers to win.

Lets go CLUTCH CITY.

Houston Rockets Force a Game 6

Houston, Rocket, Portland, Trailblazers

Houston Rockets stay alive and extend the series to game 6. (Photo Credit: Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports)

Rockets ramp up the intensity and extend the series

The Houston Rockets finally had the complete game that they hoped to have been achieving all series. The team had big contributions from several players and played the best defense they have played in many weeks.

The Rockets looked a lot more like the team that put together long stretches of wins throughout the regular season. Tonight they played with a great sense of urgency, deflecting passes, throwing their bodies around and hustling for rebounds. Continue reading

Rockets Playoffs: Game 5

 

Houston, Rockets, Portland, Trail Blazers

Houston Rockets look to avoid being knocked out of the playoffs in Game 5. Photo Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer, USA Today Sports

The Houston Rockets arguably should be the team up 3-1 looking to close out the series tonight but have squandered 2 games. The backs are now fully against the wall, but with a win tonight the Rockets can shift all the pressure on Portland to win Friday night and avoid a game 7 on the road.

In game 1 the Rockets had an 11 point lead with 5 minutes in the 4th, and in game 4 had and 8 point lead in the 4th. The Rockets in each of these two games made dumb fouls, turned the ball over, and failed to hit timely shots to maintain leads late in games. Continue reading