The Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games, but nothing about the series looked pretty, as the team shot 28% from distance.
Ryan Anderson, James Harden, and Trevor Ariza struggled from deep, all shooting under 24% during the series.
Despite three Rockets starters not being able to find their shot. The team was still able to find the right amount of magic to beat the Thunder late in three of team’s four wins.
What the Thunder did great, was take away the three-point shot. The Rockets took 40 three’s a game during the regular season but in the first round, it was nearly cut by 10, shooting 33 a game.
“Thier goal was to eliminate our three-point shooting,” Ryan Anderson said of the matchup with the Thunder. “Take us away from our in-rhythm shots, they did a really good job at that.”
But by forcing the Rockets off the arc, what the Thunder did do was give up drives and points in the paint.
During the series, the Rockets scored a playoff high 33 points on 42 drives a game, which is drastically higher than the 19 points on 30 drives during the regular season.
“They have long defenders, their key was to really eliminate us from getting our open shots,” Anderson said. “But it opened up that lane, it opened up the paint, Nene was able to take advantage of that, James (Harden) got some wide-open looks at the basket, those are little things that aren’t going to show up on the stat sheet.”
While the Rockets may have been able to push past the Russell Westbrook’s without the three-ball, whoever they take on in the second round, be it the San Antonio Spurs or the Memphis Grizzlies, they are going to offer a much tougher test and shooting three’s at a high clip will go a long way to winning the series.
While Anderson himself struggled from three, he understands that the Rockets still need him to keep taking the shots.
“Whether I get five shots or 10 and miss them all or make them all, I know I’m providing that space,” Anderson said. “I want to make shots and I know we all want to make shots, we can shoot the ball a lot better than we had but we are winning and that’s all the matters.”
As the Rockets continue in the playoffs, it’s hard to picture that the three’s have just dried up, eventually, they fall and once they do expect the team to go on a big run.
If the team learned anything during the series with the Thunder, it’s that they can win in more ways than just shooting 15 three’s a game which the team did in so many wins during the regular season.
The three’s will fall at some point.
Anderson, Ariza, and Harden won’t shoot under 30% from deep for the rest of the playoffs, but until they get hot the Rockets are going to have to fight even harder against their next round foe.