By Andrew Pisano – SportsRadio 610
(CBS HOUSTON) – The Rockets are in a must win situation for Game 3 after the heartbreaking loss Thursday night.
“It’s frustrating to give away the game like that,” James Harden said after the game. “But my teammates and coaches were behind me”
There were a few “What ifs” on that final play that will haunt the Rockets if they don’t win on Saturday. As great as Harden played, he made a mistake by keeping the ball with a wide-open Josh Smith in the paint. If Harden passed to Smith, he most likely would have scored with 3.5 seconds left in the game, leaving it up to Golden State to make a game winning shot.
The Rockets played well enough to win the first two games, but made a few costly mistakes. Here is how the Rockets can bounce back in Game 3 and forget about Thursday night’s loss.
- KEEP YOUR EYES ON STEPH CURRY
This sounds a lot simpler than it actually is, but lets take a look at a couple of Steph Curry’s stats in these first two games.
Curry was 14 for 16 on open shots, and 8 of 10 on open 3s. However, when he had contested shots, he shot 44%.
The fact that Curry was wide open 16 times in two games is unforgivable. I get it, he’s hard to cover, but double team him more often and let Draymond Green get some wide-open shots.
Keep your eyes on Curry, and if he leaves your zone, call it out to your teammates.
- GET ARIZA MORE INVOLVED
This one is as easy as it sounds. Harden, the refs aren’t giving you all the calls you deserve, so when you are being double or triple covered, pass the ball to Trevor Ariza who is being left alone behind the 3 point line.
Ariza attempted only nine 3s in Games 1 and 2; in Game 7 against the Clippers he attempted twelve. While he was only 1 for 4 on Thursday, he’s a streaky shooter who can get it going if you give him the ball.
- IGNORE DRAYMOND GREEN
This guy is the biggest flopper of the four teams left in the playoffs. Anytime a Rockets player brushes by him, Green hits the deck, looks at the closest ref, and screams at the top of his lungs.
While Draymond Green needs to work out his masculinity issues, he’s doing a good job of getting on the Rockets’ nerves. Green has gotten into the head of players on a few occasions, which disrupted the flow of the Rockets offense.
Green will foul you hard, and then cry to mommy when someone touches him.
Just ignore the baby, give him his bottle, and he’ll go to sleep.
- STEP YOUR GAMEPLAN UP MCHALE
Kevin McHale might be the most up and down coach in the league. He went from keeping Harden on the bench in the 4th quarter of Game 6 against the Clippers, to not calling a timeout with 8 seconds left down by 1.
“When we got the rebound, someone fell down for them, I’m not sure who, and someone was out of bounds for them,” Kevin McHale said. “We’ll take our best player coming downhill. He’s a great downhill player.”
That sounds like a pretty good excuse, and while Harden should’ve passed it to Josh Smith, McHale is still the coach of the team. Great coaches don’t leave decisions up to players when the games on the line. Call a timeout and draw up your best play. This is the reason you saved that last timeout in the first place.
The good news for McHale, his players aren’t upset with him for it.
“We had the ball in our best player’s hands and the way the rhythm was going, I’m not mad at Coach for not calling a timeout,” Josh Smith said.
We know that this is a resilient Rockets team; I can definitely see them winning Games 3 and 4 at home. The Warriors home crowd is a loud one, so coming home should help a lot. Just focus on these 4 things and they should be fine, and it won’t hurt if Dwight Howard makes his free throws.
Follow Andrew Pisano on Twitter – @andrewpisano