Houston Rockets: Will the small-ball style fall out of style soon?

NBA Houston Rockets Robert Covington (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
NBA Houston Rockets Robert Covington (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Should we still buy-in on the Houston Rockets?

The first week of the NBA bubble has been nothing short of exciting. There were many games that went down to the wire, including the Houston Rockets‘ first two games beating Dallas and Milwaukee.

Houston’s small-ball system was important in those wins because of their ability to make shots and playing tremendous defense down the stretch. James Harden and Russell Westbrook have a combined 173 points between them in their first three games back.

The recent loss to the Portland Trail Blazers was disappointing mainly because Houston couldn’t make shots. Their defense wasn’t as good as it was in the first two games, and they were outrebounded 64-39.

The Houston Rockets have to prove it on the defensive end

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They only question for Houston is if they can compete on the defensive end and if they can grab boards on a nightly basis. Making shots with this lineup on the floor isn’t the Rockets’ main problem, it’s the rebounds and getting stops on the defensive end that’s really the issue.

The Rockets MO (modus operandi) is really driving into the paint and shooting 3’s. With this lineup, Houston is deadly at mastering the art of the analytics that the Rockets’ organization is so high on.

Some interesting statistics from the first three games:

  • Rockets vs, Mavericks: Houston was outrebounded 55-43. The Mavericks had 24 second-chance points to Houston’s 11.
  • Bucks vs. Rockets: Houston was outrebounded 65-36. The Bucks had 23 second-chance points to Houston’s 14.
  • Rockets vs. Blazers: Houston was outrebounded 64-39. The Blazers had 13 second-chance points to Houston’s nine.

Yes, there were other stats to take into Houston’s 2-1 record in the bubble, but these statistics are very critical whether or not Houston can stay alive in going into the playoffs. For the Rockets though, making 3’s and driving to the basket is where they can make up for them being outrebounded.

This is where Houston can have an advantage over their opponents. Threes are better than 2’s and taking high percentage shots with their smaller lineup will keep them in games. The issue for the opponent’s bigs is that they will have to continue to protect the paint and get to Houston’s shooters, which presents a problem for them.

Damian Lillard shared his thoughts on the Rockets’ small-ball style.

"“We wanted them to adjust to us instead of us coming out and switching up everything we do…(our bigs) were having to close out to guys and (the Rockets) made some threes but we said we’re going to make them pay on the glass and beat guys inside to try to take advantage of that and we’re going to see who gets the better of who at playing their game.”“And I believe it showed we were able to win that battle.”"

Next. Miami Heat flash dangerous potential in beating Boston Celtics without Jimmy Butler. dark

Do you think the Houston Rockets are contenders or pretenders with their small-ball system? It still remains to be seen.