HOUSTON ROCKETS OFFENSE: HARDEN & CP3 NEEDS MORE HELP? OTHERS SHOULD BE MORE INVOLVED? BOTH.
Even the most effective NBA offense in play-offs (OFFRTG 110.3) and second best during regular season (OFFRTG 112.2) can slightly lose it's effectiveness if you face probably the best team on this planet both offensively and defensively.
Despite probably the best 1-on-1 basketball player in the world James Harden great individual performance Houston Rockets were defeated 106:119 (30:29; 26:27; 24:31; 26:32) and The Beard +/- while being in the game was -7.
JAMES HARDEN vs GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS in 2017./18. SEASON:
Did Steve Kerr strategy was challenge Paul and Harden to play more 1-on-1 while at the same time not involving other teammates who are threat from the 3-point line? Not always your best player need to score more for your team to win.
Also 3-Point Shot Attempts and 3-Point Shot Attempt Rate was lower than average for the team who attempts the most 3-point shots in the NBA this season (Reg. season 3pAR 50.2% of all FGAs was 3-pointers).
HOUSTON ROCKETS 3-POINT SHOT ATTEMPTS 2017./18.
HOUSTON ROCKETS 3-POINT SHOT ATTEMPT RATE 2017./18.
3-POINT SHOT ATTEMPTS BY OTHER PLAYERS WHEN HARDEN DIDN'T PLAY.
12:52 minutes without Harden in the game : 12 of 28 3-pointers (6/12 50%)
35:08 minutes with Harden in the game: 16 of 28 3-pointers (2/16 12.5%)...
Confidence and rhythm for great shooters Ariza, Gordon, Anderson and others are very important to shoot with high %.
HOUSTON ROCKETS OFFENSE. GAME 1.
FAST BREAK POINTS: Houston had only 3 points from fast break situations...
TRANSITION THREE-POINTERS: Warriors did a great job of taking care of basketball, only 9 (!) turnovers. One of the most powerful weapon transition three-pointer was taken out of their Rockets arsenal. As it's well known - bad shot selection, bad decisions, long rebounds, and mainly turnovers are things that creates fast-break situations and chance to score during offensive transition when defense not set. Defense creates offense.
GOLDEN STATE STRATEGY TO "SWITCH" (OFF-BALL/ON-BALL SCREENS): Harden and CP3 played lot of 1-on-1 ISO after on-ball screen coverage was "switch". They both did pretty well attacking "switch" but this defensive strategy slowed down hosts offense and other teammates wasn't involved too much(shooters' rhythm). Of course Houston plays lot of ISO basketball, that's not secret but I think best players wanted to have ball in their hands almost all the time... Capela didn't score directly after roll or receiving ball in low-post.
"Rank last in the playoffs in both player movement (5.6 miles traveled per 24 minutes of possession) and ball movement (252 passes per 24 minutes of possession), according to Second Spectrum tracking. " (NBA.com).
HARDEN vs CURRY ISO (and vice-versa)... HARDEN vs LOONEY. Since Warriors used to switch most of the pick-and-rolls Houston created switch where Harden can play against less physical defender such as Curry. The Beard did a great job attacking Curry.
Because of CP3 and Harden control the ball in their hands all the time, constantly attack Warriors defenders after switch, it affected their defense because of fatigue, especially Harden's. Not only Harden attacked to Curry but also vice-versa in the opposite end of floor. Curry scored few points while Harden played "defense" against him.
HIGH PERCENTAGE SHOTS FOR ROCKETS (GAME 1).
1. TRANSITION THREE-POINTERS AND LAY-UPS. Houston needs more transition three-point shots.
2. ISO. CP3 and HARDEN ATTACKS AFTER PICK-AND-ROLL - CREATES SHOT FOR THEMSELVES (vs Looney, vs Curry).
ISO (SWITCH) vs Looney = Slam dunk.
ISO (SWITCH) vs Curry = step-back 3
ISO (SWITCH) vs Curry = step-back mid-range shot. 2 points.
3. 1vs1 DRIVE + ALLEY-OOP to CAPELA or 1vs1 DRIVE-KICK for 3-POINT SHOT. Ball-handlers creates shot for teammates.
HARDEN Alley-Oop to Capela = very high % shot near the basket. ISO vs Curry (SWITCH)
HARDEN Alley-Oop to Capela = very high % shot near the basket. Transition. Houston needs more easy baskets like this!
CP3 attack immediately after SWITCH and finds an open teammate in the corner. Ariza = 3 points.
LOW PERCENTAGE SHOTS FOR ROCKETS (GAME 1).
1. BAD MID-RANGE SHOTS (G1 Pick-and-roll to ISO situations). Houston offense is built around high% shots.
2. ANY SHOT in 1vs1 SITUATION WHEN TO CREATE SHOT in ISO SITUATION LASTS TOO LONG AND THERE ARE 3 or LESS SECONDS LEFT ON SHOT CLOCK.
3. ANY SHOT when after ISO after pick-and-roll SWITCH when players can't create their own shot or attack to defender with dribble penetration and in the last moment when 5 or less seconds left on the shot clock ball is passed to teammate who needs to make a play within few seconds. (Most of the time shoot three-pointer over defenders' high hands or after shot fake drive to the basket in hope to score).
This offense definitely isn't something that Rockets need. Not always Harden or CP3 were able to create great shot for themselves and after passing the ball in the last moment to teammates put lot of pressure for them to make a play.
Thanks for reading basketball fans! CoachKris @ HUPU