The Houston Rockets executed what would have been a perfect plan against any other team, hoisting 37 threes and putting the ball in the hands of their best players, as James Harden and Chris Paul combined for 64 of the team's 106 points in a 13-point loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday night.
Unfortunately, this is a brand of basketball that plays to the strength of a veteran team that is known to lull opponents into their obvious tendencies, rendering them into a one-trick pony.
Shooting guard Eric Gordon, who has been historically awful against the Warriors (2-of-24 from deep during the regular season), settled into a nice groove with 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting, but didn't get the ball enough, as Paul and Harden ran the show and kept the ball on a string during the entire game.
“I definitely would like to get the ball more for me to be aggressive and get good looks,” said Gordon, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “Offensively with everybody, we really don’t get real good looks.”
The reigning Sixth Man of the Year warned that the Rockets' brand of basketball isn't really made to compete against a team of this caliber after Houston ran a playoff-high 45 iso plays, the most in the league within the last five postseasons.
Harden, the chief executor of this tactic, ran 26 isolations of his own, resulting in an effective 14-of-24 from the floor and a 41-point explosion; yet one that didn't prove enough to win at home.
“We can’t isolate as much against a good defensive team. I don’t care who you are,” said Gordon. “We have some of the best isolation players out there. But against a team like that, it’s going to be too tough.”
Gordon enjoyed 24 and 30-point games during the first two outings against the Warriors, but he had 16 and 24 shots to get them with — a chance that will prove tough to repeat with the backcourt of Harden and Paul dominating the basketball so eagerly throughout the game.