The Houston Rockets are experiencing some of the same issues in the Orlando bubble that they were before the NBA’s shutdown.
For the most part, the Houston Rockets have looked pretty good so far in the bubble, as they are 3-1 through the first four games. There are plenty of reasons to be encouraged by what we have seen from them so far. However, not all has been perfect in Orlando.
There are at least three trends of the Rockets’ pre-shutdown performance that we would rather have not seen remain consistent in the NBA restart.
1. The Houston Rockets are giving up big leads
One of the most frustrating parts of the early regular season, as it pertained to the Rockets, was their tendency to get up by between 12 and 20 points only to get content and watch their lead revert back to a single-digit figure.
This is occurring again, and the reasons are the usual suspects: careless turnovers, settling for bad shots, and losing aggression. The Rockets must learn to keep their foot on the gas when they are performing well to avoid putting themselves in risky situations at the end of games.
2. Foul Trouble
There have been many situations this season where the Rockets put themselves in foul trouble and end up with a less comfortable lead or fall behind as a result. As it stands this year, they rank seventh in the league in fouls committed per game.
Not only has this resulted in high numbers of team fouls which consequentially puts opposing teams in the bonus, but it has also had individual ramifications for players such as Robert Covington, P.J. Tucker, and James Harden.
The reasons for this usually involve a lackadaisical defensive effort, a struggle with the size difference, or being undisciplined when they are beaten off the dribble.
3. Lack of effort on the boards
We all knew that micro ball would bring about noticeable discrepancies in rebounding between the Rockets and larger opponents. Simply grabbing fewer rebounds than the other team is not necessarily the problem, though.
The issue comes from the size of the difference in rebounding between the Rockets and other teams, as well as the reasons they are getting outrebounded so badly.
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Getting beaten on the boards by five or 10 is understandable given the height of the team and can certainly be overcome.
While the Rockets may have beaten the Bucks in that game, consistently getting outrebounded by that wide a margin is not sustainable, especially in the playoffs.
A lot of the times this happens, it is due to a lack of effort on the part of the Rockets. Ball-watching and the absence of boxing out cannot be reasons the team doesn’t secure boards.
The rebounding issue is particularly harmful on the defensive end, as making an opponent miss is useless if you allow them to get it right back and put up another easy shot. Again, a height difference is understandable, but a lack of effort and discipline is not.
Most of what we have seen from the Rockets has been encouraging, which is why they have won three out of their first four games back. But if they want to have the best chance of winning a championship come the postseason, they will need to address these three issues reasonably quickly.