The Houston Rockets have played elite defense in recent weeks, but they will have to control the pace of the game in order to slow down the fast-paced Kings’ offense.
The Houston Rockets’ defense has been superb lately. Since the All-Star break, the Rockets have a 105.3 defensive rating, the second best in the NBA. The Rockets are also first in steals over that time span, which has allowed them to mostly control the pace of the game.
However, they will have their defense tested against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday evening. The Kings didn’t quite make the playoffs this year and they aren’t led by any superstars. However, the Kings play hard and fast, and their youth gives them a clear advantage in the speed department over veteran teams like Houston.
Since they lack superstars, Sacramento’s offensive rating is just outside the top ten. But even though the Kings aren’t the league’s most efficient offense, they still manage to score a lot of points.
The Kings average 114.2 points per game, which is the eighth highest scoring average in the NBA, ranking higher than the Raptors, Thunder and even the Rockets.
They don’t make a very high percentage of their shots and they’re just 15th in 3-pointers made per game, but Sacramento scores a lot of points because their fast-paced style of play affords them a lot of extra possessions.
Sacramento plays at a pace of 104.26, second in the league only to Atlanta. As a result, Sacramento is second in the NBA in field goals attempted per game, and they lead all teams in both fast break points and points off of turnovers.
The Kings understand that the best way to make up for a lack of star talent is to simply increase the number of shots they take per game, which can be accomplished by playing at a breakneck pace.
Houston’s best defense against Sacramento will be limiting turnovers and shooting a high percentage from the field on offense. Obviously, the former is more controllable than the latter, because you can’t completely control if the ball goes in or out.
If the Rockets are efficient on offense, then Sacramento will be forced to go against a set Houston defense. Without any elite offensive weapons, the Rockets should be able to hold Sacramento’s offense at bay in the half court.
The Rockets are just a half game behind the Portland Trail Blazers for the third spot in the west. Houston is at home against a non-playoff team and these are the games they have to win. Let’s see of they can carry their momentum from their last win over Denver against the Kings.