Houston Rockets vs Phoenix Suns game preview - December 2

N.B. Lindberg
Phoenix Suns v Houston Rockets
Phoenix Suns v Houston Rockets / Bob Levey/GettyImages
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Houston Rockets vs Phoenix Suns: X-Factor

The Rockets X-factor against the Suns is Alperen Sengun. The Suns allow the fifth-highest percentage of shots zero to three feet from the rim but have the ninth-best opponent field goal percentage in that area. They also allow the ninth most shots three to ten feet from the rim but have the fourth-best field goal percentage allowed. 

Sengun makes his living ten feet and in. A whopping 81.7% of his field goal attempts come in that area, and it’s part of the reason he is able to generate so many free throws. For the Rockets to have a chance, they’re going to need Sengun to be an old-fashioned running back on the low block. Because the Suns allow shots around the basket, they’re heavily reliant on contesting them to make their defense work. If Sengun can get their frontcourt in foul trouble, it could open more opportunities for the rest of the Rockets to have success around the basket. 

While the Suns let teams close to the basket, they do an excellent job running them off the 3-point line. The Rockets will need Sengun to collapse the defense and spray out to shooters beyond the arc to have a fighting chance. With Sengun on the court, the Rockets attempt fewer 3-pointers but hit them at a significantly higher frequency, especially from the corners. In the early going, Sengun should be the focal point of the offense, but he needs to look to pass out of the post more than he has this season. 

The Suns are excellent, but their biggest offensive flaw is they take far too few 3-pointers. For the Rockets to have a chance, they’re going to need to beat them by gaining a sizable advantage beyond the arc, and it all starts with possessions into the post to Sengun. 

dark. Next. Can the Rockets’ starters solve their defensive problems?