How the Rockets’ defense has been surprisingly clutch all year

Kristaps Porzingis Russell Westbrook (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Kristaps Porzingis Russell Westbrook (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers, James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images) /

Benefits of the bubble on the Rockets late-game defense

There is one factor that has been very important for the Rockets in the bubble: empty crowds. With no fans, the Rockets’ switching defense works better because it’s been easier to communicate.

With a switch-heavy defense, like the Rockets employ, communication is everything. If the opponent is setting a pick, the primary on-ball defender likely doesn’t know it’s coming. The only way they would know is by their teammate yelling “switch” or calling out the pick.

With no fans in the stands and fewer distractions, the Rockets are able to easily communicate their defensive scheme. This is especially important late in games, where concentration needs to be at its highest. If the Rockets were a man-to-man, non-switching team, raucous crowds would have less of an impact on the defensive performance.

Even in the Rockets’ recent loss, the defense was solid for most of the game. The Rockets held Damian Lillard to 6-of-19 shooting and held the Trail Blazers to a mere 24 points in the fourth quarter. But it doesn’t stop there, as the Rockets held the Blazers to 41.1 percent shooting for the game.

Next: Rockets' season-long defense