THE Z REPORT
Lance Zierlein: 3 simple steps for the Rockets to bounce back and win Game 2
The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Is the sky falling? Frankly, maybe it is. James Harden put together a huge Game 1 and Chris Paul added 23 points and 11 rebounds and they still lost by double digits. How do you stop Kevin Durant? How do you keep Klay Thompson and Steph Curry from finding their rhythms and burying you this series?
Look, this is going to be a difficult series to win, but it’s not impossible and Game 1 also showed that the Rockets could definitely matchup with the Warriors - they just struggled to do it in the third quarter which was enough to turn that game into a boat race.
How to Erase -13
When you look up at the scoreboard and see a loss by 13 points, at home no less, it looks insurmountable. Maybe it will turn out to be a foreshadowing of the series. I know that the entire TNT crew seems to believe that Game 1 was representative of how this series will look, but it doesn’t have to.
Over the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Rockets were +4 in the turnover differential but they found themselves on the other end of that number in the series opener after turning it over 13 times and forcing just 9. The Rockets must win the turnover battle because the entire key to beating a team with elite shooting is to take away some of their possessions. Houston won the rebound battle, but must pair that a “W” in the turnover column as well. Win the turnover battle and that is worth at least four points.
The next step is to actually not lose Klay Thompson in the half-court sets. WTF?! When 4 of Thompson’s 6 3-point makes are wide-open you are going to lose. These shots are basically layups for him. If the Rockets can eliminate some of those defensive breakdowns, maybe two of those baskets go away and that would be worth six points.
And is it too much to ask Luc Mbah a Moute to make an actual layup? After going 0-for-6 including five missed chipies near the basket, he’s got to finish when he gets near the rim. Hell, the entire team needs to finish when they have easy looks near the rim. If he had made just two of those six shots, we are talking about four more points.
Winning turnover battle
Actually guarding Klay Thompson 3s
Making two easy layups at basket
New Point Differential
We haven’t even talked about how the Rockets shot free throws poorly and they allowed too many easy back-cuts to the basket for layups. I’m not telling you that the Rockets are going to win the series or even Game 2 (although they are favorites again), but I am telling you that those 13 points aren’t as insurmountable as you might think.