The title seems a little bit simplistic and click bait but it’s true and it’s really what’s going to decide this series.
Behind new head coach Mike D’Antoni, the Rockets had a revitalized year from last season’s debacle. The Rockets did it by jacking up an NBA record number of threes attempted and made. James Harden and Eric Gordon were top five all-time in threes attempted and were ninth and 12th in made threes, respectively. Also Ryan Anderson was 50th all-time as well. So, there are plenty of threes to go around.
The Houston Rockets attempted a god awful amount, 40 threes per game. They made 14. This is astonishing with the way the game has moved. So, one thing we can concede, the Rockets are going to hit some threes and they’ll continue to shoot it from there. They’ll knock in some that just feel stupid but then there will be some games where they struggle. However, their struggle is 8-9 threes a game, compared to an Oklahoma City bad game, which is 1-3.
When the Rockets are winning, they’re hitting 15.8 threes per game on 40 attempts, for 38.6 percent. When the Rockets lose, they only hit 29.5 percent from beyond the three-point line. They make only 11.6 percent threes.
It’s not just an extra pass and then jacking up the treys, it’s how they do it. Over half of their shots, 58.8 percent to be exact, is taken from beyond 25 feet. They’re shooting 35 percent from those distances, too.
We see it here as Gordon lines up about four feet behind the three point line. victor Oladipo is well within the three-point line. Against a normal team, Dipo is in prime perimeter defense. However, with Gordon sitting back so far, Gordon is wide open now.
By the time Oladipo closes out, Gordon has 4-5 feet of space, and gets off a quality shot within the offense. This is all within the D’Antoni offense. Even when he was in Phoenix, those Suns teams were in the top of the league at attempting long range shots.
You see it again towards the end of the third quarter, Harden takes a 26-footer and it goes in, swish, but there’s really not a lot the Thunder can do in this case. This is just Harden catching in rhythm and making every Thunder fan curse.
Once we see it. harden is 25 feet from the basket, and there’s not a Thunder play outside of the perimeter to really challenge his shot. The bucket goes in and the Thunder go down 21. It was like this all night long.
It’s tough to really go out and defend that far from the basket. Oklahoma City’s length becomes stretched out and that allows players like Harden and Lou Williams to slash within the wide open paint all of a sudden. Oklahoma City has to find a way to compromise their space without giving the entire three-point line for the Rockets to feast on.
The Rockets live by the three and they die by the three. Oklahoma City allowed the Rockets to shoot 38 percent in the three Houston victories and only 35 percent in the one Thunder victory. If the Thunder can limit the Rockets from deep, they have a shot in this series.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!