Here's how the Rockets can get back on track
The Houston Rockets have lost their last five out of six games, including going 0-4 without Christian Wood in the lineup. Thursday night's loss versus the Miami Heat was deflating. A plethora of missed threes, bad offensive sequences, and three missed opportunities in the Heat's last possession of the game were big factors in the loss. In the Rockets' press conference, Stephen Silas' frustration showed because of another loss and two more injured players.
Silas apologized twice because of his short responses during his time with the media. The Rockets defense has still been stellar besides two blown-out losses versus the New Orleans Pelicans and Charlotte Hornets. As I dove deeper in the Rockets' losses, there was not enough impactful offensive opportunities. Victor Oladipo's efficiency is down, Wood is still limping from his ankle injury, and PJ Tucker's impact is questionable. Another thing that bothered me is the continuous nights of swap outs between John Wall and Oladipo.
There is an understanding of Wall and Oladipo's injury limitations. The last time the Rockets maxed out Wall's minutes it caused ACL soreness inside his knee. So, I understand the frustration Silas expressed when Oladipo and Tucker went out with injuries against the Heat. Hopefully, Wood can overcome his ankle injury soon.
Oladipo hasn't quite found his stride with the Rockets outside of two games. Coach Silas seems confident that Oladipo will turn it around.
"Victor's gonna get there. Hopefully, his injury isn't too bad. He is a big part of what we do, and one of the reasons we're top five defensively is because of Victor Oladipo," Silas said.
Oladipo's struggles could raise eyebrows in the Rockets' front office before the trade deadline.
The Rockets front office is open-minded, whether they end up flipping him … or whether they decide he is a piece that they want to move forward with," Tim MacMahon said on SNY.
Right now, Oladipo is shooting the three-ball at 29% with the Rockets, which is a career low. Oladipo's offensive rating is a 101.1 and hasn't been that low since his 2014-2015 year with the Orlando Magic. Is Oladipo's past injury affecting him? That could be possible, but Victor is still averaging 18.4 points per game. Oladipo's scoring is still shaky and non-impactful. His shooting efforts have become poor by shooting 38.6% from the field, including 44% in efficiency. Victor has struggled with his play making abilities with the Rockets. He isn't used to doing lobs or setting up teammates for easy opportunities. The "WOW" factor has been affected by injuries and not having enough reps together. Hopefully, Oladipo's injury isn't too serious, and he can turn it around shooting wise.
Another concern involves PJ Tucker and how his minutes have gotten out of control. Without Wood in the lineup, the Rockets scoring is limited. Although the Rockets show fight towards the end of games, they're 23rd in clutch scoring. Tucker cannot help the Rockets in momentum swings and clutch moments. He would be a better fit on a championship contender with multiple shooters surrounding him. Tucker isn't known for lighting up the scoreboard. His defense hasn't been good this season along with his poor shooting. PJ is shooting 38% from the field and his defensive rating became a career worse at 111.0.
As of right now, the Rockets need scoring as they are 24th in offensive efficiency in the NBA. Shockingly, as a team the Rockets are shooting 35% from three.
I want to see the Rockets' front office attack the trade deadline aggressively. Getting Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon could help the Rockets scoring efforts improve. If Houston can find a consistent closeout scorer, they could make a strong push.
Hopefully, Silas maintains his confidence with each player. He was dealt a bad hand in his first year as a head coach, but he's handled it well overall.