We explore why the Houston Rockets may not be quite ready
With the NBA playoffs only a few months away, it’s time to start looking at the teams that have a real shot to win the finals. Currently, the Houston Rockets have the best record in the NBA and are one of the hottest teams coming into the all-star break, but if the past tells us anything this Rockets team is just fools gold. One of the main reasons to believe this claim stems from the free throw line.
As of today, the Rockets currently rank second in the NBA with 25 free throw attempts per game and are shooting an average of 28 in their past three games. In the playoffs, the refs tend to choke on the whistle and call fouls much less than in the regular season. This alone will surely cut down how many points Houston scores and whether or not they can get into a rhythm. Additionally, teams tend to play much better defense in the playoffs and will likely seek to do what San Antonio did to the Rockets in last year’s playoffs when they held them to about 103 PPG, about 12 points less than their regular season average.
When the Rockets face defenses like this they tend to get rattled, start to force up poor shots and stray from their offensive game plan. Lastly, Houston’s two-star players, James Harden and Chris Paul, each have a well-documented history of choking in the playoffs.
In his 13 year NBA career, Chris Paul has never made it past the second round of the playoffs, much less sniffed a championship. Even with sometimes stacked rosters and large leads, Pauls teams never seem to get it done. As for James Harden, he has made it to the Western Conference Finals, but that was three years ago. In last year’s playoffs, Harden had a few great games but was largely swallowed up on defense by both Kawhi Leonard and Andre Roberson, which leads to Harden getting frustrated and often giving up on his team, not something you want to see from an MVP candidate.
All in all, the Houston Rockets are looking like the best team in the NBA and have the best record, but if history tells us anything it may just end in another second-round upset for Harden, Paul and the rest of the Rockets.