Rockets Must Fix Defensive Miscommunication Going Into Game 2

By Matthew Cardenas on May 15, 2018
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Game 1 of the highly-anticipated Rockets/Warriors has passed and the Warriors used monstrous nights from Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to steal homecourt advantage from the Rockets. James Harden was the only Rocket able to be in a rhythm during Game 1, finishing the night with 41 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds on 14-24 shooting. He was arguably the best player on the court Monday night with five other all-stars sharing the court.

The Rockets stuck to their isolation ball from Harden and Paul to initiate the offense. It does not matter what the TNT crew or others think of the style. This style led to 65 wins in the regular season and has them in the Western Conference Finals. Multiple boneheaded mistakes on the offensive end started to glare in crunch time. Luc Mbah a Moute had three misses at the rim as the shoulder issue could still be there. Eric Gordon had an easy bucket late in the second quarter, but fumbled the ball driving to the rim. Little mistakes like those become large when playing what many have labeled as the greatest team ever assembled.

Mistakes on the offensive end are something you expect to be fixed for Game 2. Mbah a Moute, PJ Tucker, Gerald Green and Trevor Ariza combined to shoot 5-22 in Game 1. One would hope that shooting night will not be replicated.

Attention needs to be on the defensive end right now for the Rockets. There were too many occasions where a Warrior would be wide open on the perimeter, particularly Klay Thompson. Leaving one of the greatest shooters of all time open is a recipe for disaster, especially with the rhythm he was in for Game 1.

Once Harden gets beat by Steph Curry, Paul anticipates the drive and comes over to help in order to prevent Curry from getting the layup. The mistake here is leaving Thompson wide open in the corner. Tucker attempts to go over to the corner but knows leaving Durant open is just as fatal. Paul could have stayed in the corner with Capela behind him and also anticipating Curry's drive.

On this play, Tucker is on Durant as Curry is pushing the pace. Tucker notices Curry coming and calls for a body to tag him. Gordon and Mbah a Moute are both near Kevon Looney for who knows what. Gordon and Mbah a Moute both point at Steph, but do not react quick enough to tag him. Tucker is forced to switch as Green tries to come over to close out on an open three for Durant.

A miscommunication here takes place between Harden and Paul. We can see Paul around the free throw line trying to be a safety. Once Nick Young sets the screen for Thompson, Harden takes too long to alert Paul. This is a mistake on both parties as Paul should have tagged a body sooner.

Another miscommunication here between Paul and Harden. After Young sets the screen, Paul correctly goes over the screen. Harden deciding to stay and trap Curry leaves Young open on the pop. Gordon recognizes it and wants to help, but knows leaving Thompson will be a mistake.

This was right after the Rockets were furious with the missed call on the backcourt violation. Tucker tells Capela to switch with him, but Capela reacts too late and Tucker is forced to come help on the cut from Draymond Green. Once again, Thompson is left open and you can tell Tucker is not afraid to show his dissatisfaction. An open three for Thompson is a layup.

Mistakes shown in the clips have to be fixed in Game 2. Defensive errors are what the Warriors feed on and they will exploit it every time. Sure, it can be difficult to always have a body on a team with a plethora of shooters and talent. Little mistakes are what will cost the Rockets a trip to the NBA Finals if they are not fixed, though.

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