2. The 3-Point rollercoaster
Houston is a team that lives and dies by the three. On Monday night against the Thunder, they died by the three because they let it dictate the flow of the game. Shots from outside come and go, and for the Rockets, they have a history of relying too heavily on the three in crucial playoff games. In Game 4, they shot an NBA record 58 threes and only made 23 of them.
Even though the coaching staff led by D’Antoni made mistakes down the stretch, the players themselves have to recognize they need to execute better on the offensive end and get more efficient shots when threes aren’t falling.
They weren’t interested in drawing fouls, driving to the basket, or working the ball in the post and kicking out for a shot in stride. They continued to take difficult and low percentage 3-pointers early in the shot clock, which only gave the Thunder more momentum to surge ahead.
3. Defensive mistakes
Houston won Game 2 because of their heavy effort on the defensive end, but they lost Game 4 because of their lack of it. When the Rockets hit their dry spell on the offensive end, their defense got worse.
OKC got any shot they wanted from any part of the court, and it looked at times like the Rockets were lost and uninterested in stopping the Thunder. Their confidence was utterly destroyed.
Houston allowed OKC to shoot 49 percent from the floor. Paul, Schroder, and SGA combined for 74 points in the game, and all three of them individually dissected the Rockets’ defense on numerous occasions in the second half.
Their speed and quickness off the ball gave them an advantage on the slower Rocket defenders, and the leadership and tenacity of Paul uplifted the Thunder as a team in late moments.
The all-important Game 5 will be at 6:30 PM ET on Wednesday back inside the Orlando bubble when Houston will look to bounce back from two self-inflicted losses.