That’s it Red Nation, the Houston Rockets are eliminated from the 2016 NBA Playoffs after losing to the Warriors 4 Games to 1. What the Rockets could’ve done differently to avoid that? What went wrong? It’s time to review Three Lessons from Rockets Elimination.
It’s tough to say it for Houston Rockets fans but the outcome of this series against the Warriors was largely expected from the begining. What wasn’t expected, though, was the manner of the defeat: With the dubs playing without Stephen Curry and the Rockets repeating the same baffling mistakes they committed throughout the season.
In the end, I wonder what this playoffs adventure might have cost the Rockets: A draft pick and a wide array of suitable replacements in the head coaching department.
But before we head up to the real Three Lessons to take from Rockets elimination, I guess the first thing on the agenda is the lesson Jason Terry should learn: “Do not make bold statements without anything to back you up“.
I wonder: Did Terry, a 38 year-old veteran in this league REALLY feel that Houston have done enough this season for him to guarantee a victory against the historic 73 win Golden State Warriors at the Oracle Arena? I like Jason Terry but that was one of the most preposterous absurdities I’ve heard in the last couple years.
It’s one thing to be confident, it’s a whole other to be delusional.
Let’s review the final three lessons of the year:
Shaun Livingston’s Impact: Final Account
Throughout my Three Lessons I’ve ignored the risk of being repetitive and continuously highlighted the dangers and the impact that point guard Shaun Livingston’s was doing to the Houston Rockets.
Now that the series is over I believe it’s safe to look back and estimate if perhaps I’ve been overly concerned or overestimated Livingston’s impact.
First of all Shaun had an average of 13.2 points per game in this series while playing about 27 minutes. That’s a great average but the real scary stats comes next: he knocked down 60% of his field goal attempts.
That’s 15% better than Klay Thompson (45%) and 16% better than Draymond Green (44%). And while it’s also true that Klay shoots and converts way much than Shaun, it’s not the same with Green who had the exact same average of points then Livingston.
But I guess it’s easy when most his baskets are converted in the exact same way: shooting over the smaller Patrick Beverley.
Livingston also averaged about 5 assists per game while only committing 6 turnovers in the whole series. That’s much better than Klay’s 10 and half of Green’s 12.
So you tell me: did the Warriors really need Stephen Curry to beat the Rockets when the Texan team simply took his replacement for granted?
Was Patrick Beverley really the best suited player to guard him?
Well, that’s history now.
Houston Rockets Offensive Futility
A lot’s been said about Houston Rockets defensive positioning but shouldn’t we question ourselves about the Houston Rockets lack of plays and creativity on the offensive end?
Take a look at the play below from Game 5 when the Rockets grabbed no less than 3 offensive rebounds had second chances but couldn’t convert or create anything different besides shooting from beyond the arc:
In all seriousness this video should be used by whomever becomes Houston Rockets next head coach as a guideline to how shortsighted the Rockets offensive game was. This team is one note only: and in this season particularly BAD at this one note.
If you want to shoot threes then by all means, do that but if you don’t have the tools or the right players to work this strategy then there’s no reason to keep insisting on that.
Therefore in order to grow for next season I believe the Rockets should change one of the two: either their players or their mentality. And If I were to guess it would be in them changing the former rather than the latter.
Houston Rockets need _a LOT_ of Personnel Turnover
If anything this series against the Golden State Warriors showed fans and critics alike how far removed from being a contender Clutch City really is.
The Texan team needs discipline, stronger leadership – starting with the bench – but most of all they need depth. The dubs had role players that could take care of the deal every night. And if you take a closer look apart from maybe Andre Iguodala none of them are really one of a kind players. They are hard-working dutiful players that benefit from a strong system and game plan, like Ian Clark:
It’s a given that the Rockets are going to change a lot next season but it’s probably not a great idea to just start by overpaying big bucks for everyone in free agency. I don’t think the Rockets need to go down that route. Instead: look for bargains, players that fit the system, focus on young potential talent etc.
It’s rebuilding time in Houston, and if the team wants any chance to compete with the Western heavyweights then it’s not just about structuring good deals or dealing with cap space but also about finding the right players that works and fits a proven system.
So far the Rockets have neither.
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