Regardless of who the Rockets draw in the first round of the playoffs here's three SIMPLE reasons why the Rockets can win a playoff series.
Argue against them or add your own in the comments.
Three Point Shooting
The Rockets three point shooting is LEGEND -- wait for it -- DARY.
Ok, that overstates the case, but everybody likes a good Stinson-ism and the Rockets three point shooting carries several notable distinctions.
The Rockets are second in the league in three point makes (859) and attempts (2336) and eighth in the league in three point shooting percentage (36.8%).
In games where the Rockets scored 120 points or more this season they shot 46.9% from three (11 games total).
Bottom Line: The Rockets can create a flurry of points with the three ball against any opponent or defense.
The Element of Surprise
Its already been written. This Rockets team got off to a slow start. The late addition of James Harden forced this team to enter the season with no chemistry, no experience playing with one another and an offensive certainty reserved for this Rockets team and the 2012 New York Jets.
The Rockets training camp didn't matter at all. It should have been a PowerPoint presentation on the NBA dress code and a guide on how to buy plane tickets on Hipmunk, for when you're sent to the D-League or traded.
Between the last minute roster turnover and head coach Kevin McHale's absence, due to the death of his daughter, the Rockets were a .500 team in the middle of December.
If you beat the Rockets in November or December, which the Spurs did twice, it means absolutely nothing now.
Aside from player vs. player match-ups early season game tape should just be replaced with reruns of Friends. I'm certain Gregg Popovich loves Friends.
Even after winning 45 games, with a playoff spot in hand, the Rockets rotations are in flux and makes it difficult for opponents to defensively prepare for the Rockets -- COUGH POWER FORWARD.
- Patrick Beverley is proving to be a dangerous two-way guard with do-or-die instincts who can produce a steal, block or drive to the hoop. Can the Patrick Beverley effect spark the Rockets off the bench in the playoffs?
- Francisco Garcia is has just settled in the Rockets rotation after the trade.
- Greg Smith is two years removed from playing professional basketball in Mexico and is providing much-needed inside power. Houston Rockets Playoff Scouting Report: Greg Smith
- Terrence Jones is raising eyebrows with his play over the last two weeks and appears to have supplanted Donatas Motiejunas for minutes. Terrence Jones: Up from the D-League and into the Rockets rotation
Bottom Line: Our potential playoff opponents will be lucky to have seen our current rotations once this year.
FACT: The Spurs & Nuggets have each faced off against the Rockets a single time since the trade deadline.
In the playoffs you have to be able to get a basket when it matters most. The Rockets have two unique players in Jermey Lin and James Harden.
Both have an uncanny ability to drive to the basket. Each has risen to the occasion in the past:
I left out Lin's game winning attempt against Miami this season.
They're exactly what you want with the game on the line. They will go to the basket for a score, draw a foul and ice some free throws or cause the defense to collapse and create a wide open three ball for a teammate.
Expect James Harden to take every playoff opportunity to prove his new status as one of the NBA's top performers. He will want the ball in his hands at the end of the game and I'd expect him to impress.
Here's my speculative ranking of each Western Conference playoff team's "clutch performer." If I had 10 seconds on the clock and had to give the ball to a team's "clutch performer" here's how I would rank them:
- Chris Paul
- Kevin Durant
- Tony Parker
- James Harden
- Zach Randolph
- Stef Curry
- Pau Gasol (No Kobe or Nash)
- Andre Iguodala