The start of the postseason is finally here and the road to the Finals for the Rockets will be incredibly grueling, but in order for Houston to be able to make a deep playoff run, there is one player that will be a huge factor in determining how far the team goes.
That player for the Rockets is Eric Gordon.
Of course, for the Rockets to advance in the playoffs, James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela will need to be playing at a high-level, but after the heartbreaking last-second loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Gordon’s impact cannot be underestimated for both the good and the bad.
The game in Oklahoma City was a microcosm of how the Rockets have faired all season long when Eric Gordon struggles.
As seen in the differences in stats from wins and losses, when Eric Gordon is playing well, the Rockets win.
Another example of this was in October when Gordon began the season on an enormous slump.
In October, Gordon averaged 14 points a game, the lowest out of any month this season, while shooting a dreadful 23.4% from behind the three-point line, and it is no coincidence that Houston was an abysmal 1-5.
The connection between Gordon’s level of play and the Rockets’ success is strong.
Throughout the playoffs, it will be crucial for Gordon to be playing at his best as he provides the floor spacing needed to alleviate the attention that teams can commit to James Harden.
Gordon’s ability to be a threat from deep three-point range also opens up the lanes for both The Beard and CP3 to drive and attack for either points or lobs to Capela.
Gordon is the key to unlocking the best version of the Rockets’ offense.
Against Utah, Gordon will be crucial because Houston will need him to not only be hitting shots, but for his ball-handling ability as the Rockets will have to constantly be keeping the pressure on the Jazz’s defense to tire them out.
In Houston’s four games to the Jazz, Gordon averaged only 10 points a game on 29.6 % shooting from the field, and the Rockets and Jazz split the season series.
In order for Houston to advance, Gordon must play better.
The Jazz will force Harden and Paul to have to rely on someone else to score points for Houston. They finished with the league’s second best defensive rating for the entire season, Gordon must rise to the occasion.