After losing 5 straight games to the Warriors the Houston Rockets have finally won one and handed the Golden State their 10th loss of the year. Granted the Warriors were without the MVP and Bickerstaff’s squad still has a lot to improve if they want to challenge the reigning Champions. In this article we’ll review Three Lessons to take from Rockets Game 3 victory.
In a highly contested match at Toyota Center the Houston Rockets held the lead on the scoreboard for about 46 minutes then almost handed over Game 3 to the Golden State Warriors with a terrible inbound pass by Trevor Ariza ended up with a layup by Ian Clark.
However the Rockets keep making the same old mistakes and displaying the same inconsistency that has lead the team to a .500 record and the 8th seed.
And with Stephen Curry likely to be on court Sunday, the Warriors will be gunning for their fourth win and the gentleman’s sweep. Therefore the Texan team must be fully prepared to withstand whatever the dubs may throw at them.
Let’s examine three lessons to be learned and build on from Rockets win over the Warriors:
Shaun Livingston MUST be Stopped
If “stopping Stephen Curry” is an impossible statement, then the Rockets must focus on players they can and must stop. I’m talking of course about the Warriors role players: especially Shaun Livingston. For the second consecutive game Shaun Livingston scored 16 points against Clutch City.
What’s worse is he even found a particularly easy way of getting points and that’s shooting over Patrick Beverley.
in Game 3 he got 6 consecutive points doing exactly the same thing. The game was 81-74 and after Livingston’s destruction it was 81-80.
His impact is just too much to be taken lightly by the Rockets. There’s no reason why a player like Shaun Livingston should make such difference in a whole playoff series against the Rockets. Sure one game, but ALL of them? It’s unacceptable.
Take a look at how easily he handles Beverley’s defense and shoots over him:
And as this wasn’t enough after a failed offensive play the Warriors went back to him, but this time before scoring Livingston releases himself of Beverley’s defense with his ball handling skill:
The Warriors already have too many threats, if the Rockets allows Shaun Livingston to be another weapon in their arsenal than it’s just unfair.
Donatas Motiejunas Had a Monster Game but Still Fell Short Defensively
If Donatas Motiejunas plays with the same intensity, grit and heart that he played in this Game 3 then regardless if the Rockets win or lose, they’ll be in good shape.
Nevertheless as great as D-Mo was shooting the ball from beyond the arc, grabbing rebounds, creating second chance opportunities, I still believe there’s a lot he could do to improve on defense.
And there’s a lot to be said about the player he must guard: Draymond Green is one of the best in the NBA and he was kept on a 3-for-9 shooting and just 9 points, so I must ask myself: “what the hell am I talking about?”:
That’s what I’m talking about.
Through his speed and dribbling ability Draymond Green can blow by D-Mo and get the easy layup or dunk. The obvious solution for this would be for D-Mo to take a step back and not guard Green so closely, but then Dray could still knock down the three-pointer or the jumper.
Now that’s an incredibly tough situation to handle. Green is a 6’7 power forward so he doesn’t require a big like Motiejunas to guard him, however in this case there’s no one else for him to guard and every player in the Warriors team except Bogut is very mobile.
Both Michael Beasley and Josh Smith also tried guarding Green in this game but they both lost to Green’s pace and athleticism. Corey Brewer could’ve been a solution but we all know how’s that gonna work out for the Rockets given how poorly Brewer is playing.
I’d say that’s a situation where the Rockets should pick their poison and my guess would be that as long as Green is kept far from the basket let him have his shot.
It’s incredibly risky but tonight Green was 0-for-2 from beyond the arc so as long as he doesn’t get the easy basket the Rockets should be fine.
When you play basketball with intensity, desire and guts, good things happen. That’s what the Rockets have been lacking since Game 1 when the Warriors blew them out.
At least two player reactions from last night notably shows us the attitude shift by the Rockets since the last game.
First Donatas Motiejunas three-point shot:
And to wrap it up this beautiful throw down dunk by James Harden:
Playing like that, fighting like that is the key for Clutch City to make things more difficult for the number 1 seeded Golden State Warriors.
Make sure you check out Space City Scoops end of season Rockets Round Table:
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