They say a playoff series doesn’t begin until the road team wins.
Well, three games in and the first round series between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder has yet to start.
For Houston, the solutions seem fairly simple:
- Get off to at least a decent start in the first quarter. Houston doesn’t need to drop 40 in the opening frame, but the game needs to be close after 1. OKC has outscored Houston by 20 over the first three first quarters, including nine point leads after one in Games 2 and 3. The Rockets proved in Game 2 that they could overcome this deficit, but it’s not something the Rockets can consistently expect to accomplish. Either score a bunch of points or play some defense in the first quarter. Both would be nice.
- Make threes. The Rockets were an abysmal 10-35 in Game 3, and so poor shooting from deep finally hurt the Rockets. Credit OKC with making life difficult out there. But the Rockets are also missing WIDE open looks. Houston can’t get 3-19 from Ryan Anderson, Patrick Beverley, Eric Gordon, and Trevor Ariza. This team thrives on its ability to make its triples.
- Get a little luckier. The Thunder are better at home (like everyone), but you have to wonder how likely it is that the Thunder keep shooting 50% from deep and 100% on long twos. Andre Roberson has to start missing his threes eventually. Taj Gibson will miss those long jumpers. The Thunder bench won’t shoot 13-25 three more times.
That’s it. Do those things and the Rockets can head back up 3-1.
Prediction: OKC won Game 3 just like I predicted. Now they have all the momentum and will ride it to a series win. OKC in 6.
Tip-off is at 2:30pm on ABC. Because it’s on ABC there won’t be a broadcast on Root Sports.