4. They need to keep the FTA battle close, which is very doable.
In the Thunder’s two losses, they won the free throw battle by a combined seven. In their two wins, they won that battle by 29. This is what the Thunder’s offense does. They attack, draw a foul, take their freebies, rinse, and repeat.
While the Rockets need to step their defense up on the perimeter, this is a battle that needs to be fought on the other end. The Rockets need to attack the rim on offense to generate more free throws.
In Game 4, they only got to the line 10 times and still almost won. The Thunder, due to shooting far fewer threes, will get to the line more frequently, but the difference cannot be on average +14.5 in favor of the Thunder if the Rockets are going to have a chance.
When the Rockets keep the gap in FTA below 10 in the series, they’ve won. It’s as simple as that. The Rockets need to attack the rim on offense more to close the gap, which shouldn’t be a problem for the team that finished second in FTAs a game during the regular season.
3. They won’t keep turning it over.
In Games 1 and 2, the Rockets protected the Rock better than the San Francisco Bay. They coughed up the ball only seven times in each game. However, in Games 3 and 4, the Rockets were careless and handed the ball over a combined 30 times!
The Rockets win when they take care of the ball, plain and simple. They have been great at forcing turnovers and corralled the Thunder into 13.5 per game over the series. The Rockets won’t keep coughing up 15 turnovers a game, but they’ll continue to force them.
If they take care of the ball like they know they can, the Thunder will back in Oklahoma faster than the winds go sweeping down the plains.
Next: No. 2 & 1