The Houston Rockets host the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, November 25 following four days without games. The Rockets are coming off a strong performance in their 120-127 loss to the Golden State Warriors. To escape Houston with a victory the Warriors had to go 24 for 47 from 3-point range. Even a 40% 3-point shooting performance would have seen them hit five fewer threes, turning a 120-127 victory into a 120-112 defeat.
Moral victories don’t show up in the record books, but the Rockets forced the defending champions to go supernova on offense to beat them. For a young team trying to find its footing, these are the type of losses that can propel them forward toward sustained success.
The Hawks’ 11-7 record suggests a strong team, but their underlying metrics tell a different story. Their +0.5 net rating paints them as a true .500 team, and their 111.7 offensive rating, 17th in the league and below the league average of 112.3, would be their worst since 2019-20 and is a far cry from their 2nd-ranked offense from a season ago.
The Hawks’ 12th-ranked defense, surprisingly, has picked up the slack for their lagging offense, an unforeseen development from a team led by Trae Young. However, there are reasons to believe that the Hawks’ offense and defense could trade places. They’re 24th in effective field goal percentage, a season after finishing eighth, and their opponents are shooting the third-lowest field goal percentage from three this season. Regression to the mean goes both ways, and this is a team that’s ripe for it, but it may not lead to decidedly better results.
Many of the Hawks’ offensive struggles can be chalked up to a slow shooting start from Trae Young. The one-man offense has limped to career-lows in 2-point and 3-point shooting as he is attempting a career-high 22.1 field goal attempts per game.
When the Hawks shipped out Danilo Gallinari and picks for Dejounte Murray and moved Kevin Huerter, they were clearly trading offense for defense, but it’s unlikely that they thought they would be losing this much offense.
The Rockets and Hawks played on opening night, with the Hawks securing the 107-117 victory. These are the stats to know, player to watch, and X-factor for the Rockets' Friday night showdown with the Hawks.