I don’t think I’m shocking the world by telling you that Houston needs a win tonight. Trailing 2-1 in the series they were WAXED by Golden State last time out, losing by 41 points. Considered an embarrassing performance in the regular season, in the playoffs, it stings a little bit more. Not only do the Rockets desperately need a W tonight as a team, a lot of legacies could use a boost to right now. With their backs against the wall, it’s time for Houston’s All-Stars to live up to their name.
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THERE is plenty at stake in the result of the game. Only 11 teams that have gone down 3-1 in the series have come back to shock the world, with the most recent team, well, you remember. With a title in their sights, the offseason acquisition of All-Star point guard, Chris Paul was meant to change their fortunes. Having being tabbed with the label as a postseason failure in the past, Paul has finally broken through with a maiden Western Conference Finals appearance. He might not look back on it fondly unless he picks up his output though.
THROUGH the first three games of the series Chris Paul has taken 47 shots and scored a total of 52 points. On the flip side, Golden State’s star Kevin Durant has taken 68 shots for 100 points. Translation, Paul isn’t playing very good. In fact, shooting isn’t the only area he is failing in. His assist numbers are down, he is struggling with his fouls and no one has had more Golden State baskets scored against them. He isn’t doing his reputation any favours through three games against Dub Nation.
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IT is worth mentioning that a lot of these numbers are inflated due to the blowout wins by the Dubs. But that’s no excuse for the Rockets. This team was supposedly built to take down Golden State and so far they are the ones being dismantled. Paul isn’t the only person struggling against the GSW juggernaut. Even though there is little doubt he will be the 2017-18 MVP, James Harden is hardly playing like one.
IF Houston is going to make this series competitive they need to get 35 PPG James Harden. Instead for Game 2 & 3, they received ‘miss wide-open layups’, James Harden. His enormous 41-point game in the series opener went to waste and he has struggled since then to have a massive impact on the contest. The worst thing for Houston fans is Harden’s trademark ‘foul-drawing’ is down too. In the regular season, Harden drew a foul on 11.4% of his drives, which is down to 4.7% in the playoffs. A lot of his major stat numbers are similar to his regular season averages. Houston needs Harden to be anything but average right now.
WITH their star duo struggling the other players haven’t been able to pick up the slack to make the series competitive. Eric Gordon has been fine, but other important players like Trevor Ariza and Clint Capela have laid eggs. Capela was expected by many to be a barometer in this series and so far he is failing. The other notable helpers aren’t much better with an inconsistent P.J. Tucker, a Luc Richard Mbah Moute who can’t shoot/score and a struggling big man rotation sinking their championship.
SOMEHOW they still have a win to their name against the Warriors, who had an off night in Game 2. Don’t expect too many more of them this series. Any chance of advancing revolves around Chris Paul. If the future HOFer wants to be considered a true all-time great this is when he shows it. With his back against the wall, he needs to come out firing. The same can be said for his backcourt running mate who has previous postseason shortcomings on his resume too.
HARDEN and Paul will need support, but everything Houston starts and ends with them. If they can fire up their offense and recreate that devastating iso-ball offense then Golden State could be in trouble. I don’t think they can win a shootout with Dub Nation and instead, they should resort to slowing down the pace like the ’16 Cavs did. Either way, they aren’t in a desirable position and they need an upset on the Warriors home floor to avoid a 3-1 hole. No pressure.
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