After getting completely dismantled by the Warriors in Game 4 of the series the Houston Rockets now find themselves facing elimination. But what exactly went wrong? It’s time to review three lessons to take from the Rockets third quarter collapse.
Last Sunday’s Houston Rockets 3rd quarter performance in Game 4 against the Golden State Warriors will probably go down in the books as one of the biggest meltdowns from a team on playoffs history.
The Rockets completely gave up trying, gave up fighting.
In the midst of yells from Bickerstaff and his staff begging the team to keep trying, keep balling, Draymond Green’s fury and Klay Thompson’s range the Rockets simply yielded to the Warriors. And with that missed a golden chance (no pun intended) of tying the series and potentially grabbing the upper hand against a team who will be now playing without their biggest star: reigning MVP Stephen Curry.
Here are Three Lessons to take from Houston Rockets Collapse to Dubs.
Andre Iguodala’s Impact
I’ve said it in the Player Grades but I’ll justify my argument now. I believe Andre Iguodala could still lead a very good playoff team as he is right now. Even if many people might feel he took a step back both skill wise and minute-wise when he went to the Warriors bench those reports have been greatly exaggerated.
By limiting his minutes Steve Kerr actually managed to improve Iggy’s game. Given the small forward is a very athletic and explosive player he naturally lost some of his pace as time passed him by. Still when entering the game from the bench not having the responsibility to score all the time and lead his team every night, Iguodala is able to – when requested – to take care of the job at hand.
Isn’t that the real definition of a sixth man? Iguodala is the real deal in my opinion: not Jamal Crawford. Any talented player is able to score 20/30 points if given the opportunity to shoot.
However leading a team to a championship (like Iggy did last year) or having to deal with adverse moments and finding solutions in the middle of games is not something any shooter could do. Shooters can have on and off nights: ballers will always have great nights. That’s the importance of Iguodala for this Warriors team surrounded by amazing talented shooters.
Dwight Howard Can Still Dominate the Paint
It’s very likely that Dwight Howard will play his last game wearing a Rockets jersey this Wednesday. Despite that, I feel that James Harden and the Rockets still don’t fully understand how to use him as an offensive threat.
Granted Howard has been extremely poor and unreliable in various occasions in the last two or three years in Houston.That may very well have played a part in the Rockets neglecting the big man the ball on offense thus relying on Howard mostly when playing defense.
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Nevertheless Dwight does show glimpses of “what could have been”, or perhaps that he still is a force to be reckoned with in the paint. And with changes coming soon in regards to the “hack-a” strategy there might even be room left for Howard to resurrect his career in this league: just not in Houston most likely.
With the team refusing to give Howard the ball he has to create his own opportunities, grab offensive rebounds, finish on put back dunks or layups: all that while getting beaten down like no one else in the league below the paint.
But, Howard due to his strength and athleticism could’ve been a factor in this series and plays like the one above shows us that. The Rockets very well missed a great opportunity in this series by not taking the ball to the post more often and counteracting the Warriors range game with brute, raw force inside the paint.
Rockets slow and Embarassing Defensive Transition
We’ve seen this quite often this season, the Rockets take too long to come back and restructure on defense. But never mind the speed it’s the embarrassing lack of positioning when the opposing team is on a fast break that borders stupidity.
With the Warriors such mistakes are deadly and Draymond Green and Klay Thompson were there to make sure the Rockets would pay for them. You might notice that at least the dubs fast breaks were not generated by turnovers but instead from missed field goals, which is a bonus.
However in a side note, check out who grabs the rebounds and start both fast breaks. Yep it’s your friend Shaun Livingston. The one the Rockets STILL can’t find any type of answer for.
It baffles me that very little attention by the Rockets staff has been put into the effort of stopping Livingston’s effect on the game. Without Curry throughout most series, Shaun Livingston… again, Shaun Livingston is almost SINGLE HANDEDLY destroying the Houston Rockets.
Is there a chance though now that Curry is out?
I’d say no. UNLESS Bickerstaff does something completely unexpected on the defensive end that stops Warriors role players from having such impact in the game. Especially… Shaun Livingston.
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