Going into the season, a goal for the Rockets was to have a top-10 defense. They have one-upped that about a quarter of the way through the season.
The Houston Rockets are getting it done on both ends of the court this season. The offense was never in question but the defense has stepped up to the challenge.
All the additions made in the offseason have led to the Rockets being the only team in the NBA currently with a top-5 defense and offense. Chris Paul and James Harden have beautifully meshed to create the No. 2 offense in the league and all the defensive pieces have paved the way for Houston to have the No. 5 defense.
The closest team to having these parameters is the Golden State Warriors. They have the No. 1 offense and the No. 7 defense.
How it’s happened defensively
The defense has come from the expected places and the unexpected places. As expected, P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute have come in and played solid perimeter defense. Chris Paul, in his 7 games, has been excellent on that end. Clint Capela has made leaps to become a great defender in the NBA.
As for the unexpected, James Harden has actually been a pretty decent defender. We all knew he had the ability to do so, it was all just about effort. And this season, he seems more focused on that end. Ryan Anderson is also another player who has improved defensively. He said before the year that he wanted to be better there, and he followed through.
There have been many other factors that have led to the great start defensively, but those are the main ones.
It’s leading to blowouts
This topic deserves a separate article to itself, but we will talk about it a little bit here. With the outstanding offense of the Rockets paired with the excellent defense, the Rockets are just blowing opponents away. In fact, they have held a 20-point or more lead in their last 7 games and haven’t played in a close game since the win against the Cavaliers on November 9. The lone exception is the loss to Toronto, but that was not a close game to be fair.
The Rockets are just taking off against teams. Some of the blowouts are from the beginning and some, like last night, take a quarter or two to start. Whether the team has a good defense or a bad defense, the Rockets are beating the heck out of them.
*All stats via Basketball-Reference*