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Five Things Houston Rockets Must Do To Start Winning

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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Though the Houston Rockets have lost their first 2 games there’s no reason to panic. Rather, the Rockets need to take these 2 losses and use them to fuel their practice time and learn from them.  Despite the fact the team lost their first 2 home games by 20 points matching a mark set just once prior, again, it’s not time for big changes. For those already saying the team is a dud, the Lawson trade didn’t work or the right components aren’t in place it’s simply not true.

Harden Needs To Keep Shooting:

Considering how much the ball went through James Harden‘s hands last season it was inevitable this process would take time to adapt and gel. Perhaps just that change alone has thrown Harden off in terms of his timing as his field goal percentage through the first 2 games is definitely an aberration. Trust me Harden isn’t going to shoot 25.6% from the field or 13.6 % from three all season.

It does give pause that perhaps Harden’s injury sustained in preseason threw off his timing or he is still compensating for it. Perhaps the whole story isn’t being released and needs to be delved into deeper, but given his All-Star ability it makes sense Harden just has to keep shooting until his stroke returns. The back to back set versus the Heat and Thunder offer a perfect opportunity for Harden who has played extremely well versus both squads.

Defensive Focus:

Pointing to the main issue that requires immediate tweaking, it’s not the offense (as most think) but the defense. Once the Houston Rockets play consistent defense the entire game it’s going to lead to transition opportunities via their defensive rebounding and quick outlet passes. Moreover, head coach Kevin McHale gave us the heads up during preseason when he talked about his frustration the team wasn’t able to practice together due to all the injuries.

Consider the fact Dwight Howard, James Harden, Ty Lawson and Terrence Jones all suffered time off the court through training camp and preseason due to injury. As much as that might not affect a veteran team this change isn’t minor. Houston is replacing their starting quarterback which affects schemes on both ends of the court. In addition, this change affects their top line but also significantly affects their top player and how he plays. Suffice to say the team needs to get one solid outing under their belt and ample practice time in.

Practice Makes Perfect:

As highlighted the starting 5 have had very few minutes together on court to practice and this is adding up to the team and individuals feeling off kilter. Harden has to adapt the most, but the entire team is affected to someone else having ball handling responsibilities. Wherever possible the team needs to get in practice sessions to make some initial fundamental sets they can utilize for the short term until they have more time to gel on court and gain additional practice.

Keep it Simple, Do the Little Things:

When a team has to integrate changes generally they aren’t changing copious factors all at once. The Houston Rockets are looking at taking the ball out of the hands of the main person who distributed the ball last season, want to lower turnovers and want increased ball and player movement.

Finishing up Sunday morning shootaround in Miami. #Pursuit pic.twitter.com/1HLD4KsKFm

— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) November 1, 2015

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While Ty Lawson and James Harden can’t fast forward their learning curves of their new roles or on court chemistry they can keep things simple. As for the rest of the team the best area they can focus on is defensive rebounding as this will help them accomplish several things:

  • allow increased pace via quick outlet passes
  • allow them to gain a flow to their offense
  • allow Lawson and Harden repetition of similar sets

Play One Game At A Time:

The schedule poses some problems in terms of practice time, and it’s unfortunate the Houston Rockets weren’t due for a road trip beyond the one-offs.

It would allow the squad to develop off court chemistry which could translate on court. Regardless the next 5 games offer no let up as the Rockets take on a strong Miami team who’ll vie for the top Eastern spot then come home to played the power house Thunder.

The back to back is followed by 2 teams who are better than  most think and could pose problems if underestimated (Magic/Kings) and then play the Clippers who’ll be looking for revenge after the Rockets come back win and oust of them in the playoffs. Bottom line if the Rockets aren’t careful they could easily find themselves sitting at 0-7 to start the season.

Next: The What If's Of Western Conference

Houston need to take this one game at a time, one quarter at a time and one possession at a time making adjustments as they go. First up they travel to Miami hoping to salvage a win from their first week back versus the Heat.

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