On a recent NBATV special about the Houston Rockets, Dennis Scott offered up some key strategies for championship success, but he missed one crucial aspect.
Fans of the Houston Rockets had reason to be excited on Wednesday night, as there was live Rockets content on air. Sure, there’s no replacement for seeing the Rockets playing live, but an NBA TV feature centered around the team is much better than what we’ve had on the Rockets front as of late.
The Rockets were the focal point of the special, as the network did a recap of the many storylines the Rockets have faced over the course of the season. Former NBA coach Stan Van Gundy also discussed the different types of defenses the Rockets have struggled against, as compared to the defenses they’ve stifled.
There was also a list of the top plays of the Rockets’ season thus far, which was refreshing to see. But perhaps the most debatable segment of the NBA TV feature was the one in which Dennis Scott explained the team’s keys to success.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) July 9, 2020
Scott cited the following three things as the most important factors in the Rockets’ pursuit of an NBA title:
- James Harden and Russell Westbrook must get off to fast start/set the tempo
- Role players must make open shots
- Gang rebound to make up for lack of size
While these are certainly things that will play a part in the Rockets bringing a title back to Space City, these points are heavily focused on the offensive end of the floor, which isn’t exactly the point of weakness for the Rockets.
In fact, the Rockets currently rank second in offensive rating, second in points per game, and fourth in pace. The rebounding is certainly a concern, as we saw the Rockets seemingly get out-rebounded on a nightly basis after making the commitment to small ball, but perhaps the most important area of improvement is on the defensive end of the floor.
In fact, the Rockets rank 22nd in points allowed and 16th in defensive rating, which is further proof of how the emphasis will need to be on that end.
The Rockets will certainly benefit from a healthy P.J. Tucker, who is one of the best defenders in the league, and they’ll also benefit from having had time to ingratiate Robert Covington on the team, who emerged as an elite rim protector this season.
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The Rockets could also benefit from having added 3-and-D wing Luc Mbah a Moute (if he’s fully healthy), who could make a tremendous difference on the defensive end.
Although the Rockets will have benefited from the extended break for health purposes, every team has had the same amount of time to rest, which further validates why the championship will be won on the defensive end.
It’s also important to note that the Rockets went 1-4 in their final five games leading up to the break in action and allowed their opponents to score 118 points per game during that stretch while shooting 48 percent from the field.
Both of those numbers are worse than how the Rockets normally fared on the defensive end this season.
This is not to say the Rockets don’t stand a chance in improving their defensive regression from what we saw over the course of the season, because they certainly have the players to correct those woes. However, the point behind all of this is that the Rockets will need to shore up the defense first and foremost, and worry less about the offense.
The Rockets would be wise to focus their fine-tuning on the defensive side of the floor before they tackle Dennis Scott’s strategies.