All 3’s All the Time?

Can the Houston Rockets really compete for NBA championship with a team that plays no starting big man and shoots 3’s the majority of the time? The Golden State Warriors of Curry, Thompson, Green, and Iguodala won championships as shooters but their teams still had a big man in Andrew Bogut or David Lee who could grab rebounds. Even when Durant joined up with the Warriors and they continued to be a shoot as many 3’s as possible offense, they still kept a big man such as Javale McGee or Jordan Bell around. The Rockets’ loan center is veteran big man Tyson Chandler but he’s hardly ever used.

Instead the Rockets use a rotation of James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Danuel House, Robert Covington, PJ Tucker, Austin Rivers, Ben Mclemore, Jeff Green, and when he’s healthy Eric Gordon. James Harden is the best scorer in the NBA right now and the Rockets are going to need help from the aforementioned other players if they want to blast off. So far during life under the bubble the Rockets have had games where they’ve taken more than 50 3 point shots. They’ve also been massively out rebounded by other teams. Right now the Rockets are in the 5th seed but there’s still time for them to move up in the standings. It’s hard to see how the Rockets would match up against most of the teams in the Western conference playoffs. Right now they’d play the OKC Thunder and beat them most likely by sheer star power. But after that first round matchup it’s bound to become a bumpy ride, especially against a fully healthy LeBron James leading a Lakers team into the 2nd round, or even worse against either the Clippers or the Nuggets in the Conference Finals.

This being so because all 3 of those teams are a combination of big and small. The Lakers for example would post LeBron against PJ Tucker and then who would the Rockets have guard Anthony Davis? While Westbrook and Harden may give the Lakers problems because they are without Rondo and Avery Bradley their two best defenders, a combination of James and Davis inside would will the Lakers past the Rockets. On top of that the Lakers would enormously out rebound the Rockets as well. The same can be said of both the Nuggets and the Clippers, either of whom the Rockets may face down the road should they upset the Lakers. The Clippers have some of the best perimeter defenders in the league and would have very little problems running the Rockets off the arc. The Nuggets would punish the Rockets inside with Jokic and Millsap while getting outside shooting from Porter Jr among others.

All in all the Rockets are going to have to make a high percentage of their 3’s, limit the rebound differential, and not give up too many second chance points if they want to have a chance at drinking bubbly under the bubble. But remember, if you live by the 3 you can also die by the 3