Hold Your Brooms: Breaking Down How The Houston Rockets Avoided Game 4 Sweep


Amidst the gargantuan showers accumulating in the streets of Houston were a downpour of jumpers raining in the Toyota Center. The Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors combined for an NBA record-breaking 37 three-point field goals made in another entertaining battle. James Harden was responsible for seven of those threes while also posting the first 45-point game by a Rockets’ player since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1995. Most importantly though, Houston summoned the will power and tenacity to sidestep a series sweep on their home court as they attempt to become the first team ever to overcome a 0-3 deficit.

41. 128. 169. . 115

A couple of paramount footnotes should be recognized in this Game 4 contest where the Rockets held the reins for the majority of the night. First and foremost, the Rockets jumped out to a 45-22 lead in the opening quarter and tied a playoff record for most points in the first quarter. In that stretch, Josh Smith was 5-5 from the field with 13 points, the Rockets made eight of their nine three-point attempts and they tallied 10 fastbreaks points (only 14 total in Game 3). They executed a game plan that appeared to be to push the ball on every Golden State miss or turnover.

Secondly and nearly refining the future was Stephen Curry‘s gruesome fall. Curry took a hard tumble six minutes into the second quarter. The fall initially called attention to several areas of his body including his head and right arm. Curry laid motionless on the ground for several minutes as the medical staff tended to him.

Fortunately, he was able to walk off the court under his own power as Rockets’ fans demonstrated class by applauding his well being. As Curry gained his composure in the locker room, the Warriors outscored the Rockets 23-14 to end the second quarter. Klay Thompson took over that stretch and scored 15 in the period to help cut the lead to 10.

Curry would not start the third quarter and Harden came out to prove two things:

1. The Lil B curse is a myth

2. Going to the Drake concert did not affect his game.

Of the Rockets first 24 points, Harden scored or assisted on 21 of them. He refused to allow Golden State a cake walk to the Finals. Curry checked back in during the same period but did not have an immediate affect. At the end of the day regardless of the bogus techs, flagrant fouls and Hack-A-Smith attempts, Harden was cooking the Warriors whether Lil B liked it or not.

The Good:

  • Well, James Harden is back. For those who were worried after Harden’s Game 3 performance and his late night activity prior to Game 4, I hope you’ve been reassured. He scored 45 points on 22 shots with GOOD DEFENSE. He wasn’t a strong MVP candidate this season for no reason.
  • During their 45-point opening quarter, Houston was sizzling beyond the arc. A lot of those shots were created in transition. McHale finally brewed a strategy that the Warriors did not have an answer for. You see Dwight Howard  demanding Jason Terry to push the tempo as it’s what gave them a 15-3 lead
  • Pablo Prigioni played much better than he has in forever. He (and only he) finally understood that you can’t leave Curry open at all. Not even for a second. Here he makes an absolutely astute play by choosing the find Curry and electing to allow Leandro Barbosa (33.3 three-point percentage this postseason) to take the shot.
  • Houston’s beginning to learn their personnel. Here, they allow Andre Iguodala (32 three-point percentage in postseason) an open three pointer. It’s better that he beat you than someone they know is capable of doing so (Curry, Thompson).
  • Despite Harden’s offensive showcase, all Houston starters reached double figures in points. As much as one would think this was a one man band, the numbers indicate that this win was powered through a total team effort.

The Bad:

  • Prigioni did a solid job guarding Curry (thought I’d never say that) but not everyone did. Curry found himself WIDE OPEN several times. I’m not sure if the Rockets’ have short-term memory loss or what because I’m sure that keeping any eye on Curry was a higher priority on the bulletin board than anything else (including pushing the fast break). It can be corrected but it must happen immediately before they watch him take open shots from their couch. (Sidenote: Granted this play is from an offensive rebound but there should always be a GPS on Curry’s whereabouts.)
  • Howard must learn to keep his emotions in check. He’s almost like a child at times in regards to not knowing when he’ll throw his temper tantrum. Hopefully (fingers crossed) he won’t be suspended. We need a lot more of this from Dwight (intimidation)

And less of this.

  • 16 turnovers will not cut it either. When they have committed 15 turnovers or more this series, the Warriors have scored at least 110 points. Golden State thrives on turning turnovers into quick buckets/three-point plays. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Houston has conquered a 1-3 deficit against the Los Angeles Clippers (who defeated the defending champs) to get to this point. There should not be supreme doubt that they can’t do the same with the Warriors. Winning at the Oracle Arena on Wednesday would be a huge confidence booster. This team loves playing with their backs against the walls. I hope you’re ready to watch Houston chase down the history books.

Next: Game 4 Player Grades

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