Several years ago, Mike D’Antoni was the brain behind the Phoenix Suns’ groundbreaking offense that gave a premium on speeding up the game’s pace. It was called “Seven Seconds or Less” due to that offensive system’s up-tempo style, one that tries to get players taking shots before the opposing team could set up its defense. These days, D’Antoni calls the shots for the Houston Rockets, a still high-scoring team only more reliant on isolation plays for its star players in James Harden and Chris Paul.
The offense was so dependent on those two players, in fact, that D’Antoni introduced the term “James and Chris seconds or less”, per Howard Beck of Bleacher Report.
In the past, teams mostly relied on two defenders to guard the pick-and-roll—so a player like Nash could always find a seam or an open teammate. Today, in a three-point-happy league, teams are increasingly switching defenders to avoid leaving shooters open. That means Harden (or Paul) is often operating one-on-one against a slower defender. Both feast on those mismatches.
So D’Antoni’s offense gradually evolved to play to its strengths—or as D’Antoni now calls it, “James and Chris seconds or less.”
D’Antoni is hoping that this system would lead the Rockets to the NBA Finals and result in Houston winning a title this year. Houston finished the regular season second in scoring with 112.4 points per game.
That’s a tall order for Houston especially since they are in a Western Conference finals showdown with the Golden State Warriors, who defeated the Rockets in Game 1 of the series on Monday, 119-106.