After a historic regular season and a fantastic playoff run, the Houston Rockets have been eliminated. Despite the Rockets’ best efforts, the Golden State Warriors defeated them yesterday 101-92, wrapping up the Western Conference Finals. James Harden, an MVP finalist, led the Rockets with 32 points. Eric Gordon provided a lift in place of injured star Chris Paul, pouring in 23 points and Clint Capela scored 20 points. Unfortunately, it was not enough to take down the defending NBA champions. Where did it all go wrong? What will happen to the Rockets going forward?
Houston Rockets Run Out of Fuel in Game 7
Unfortunately for the Rockets, the injury bug bit Paul again. During Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, Paul injured his right hamstring. The injury caused Paul to miss the last two games of the series. Without Paul on the floor, the Rockets did not have the leadership to keep them afloat nor a player who can set up the offense.
Die by the three
As the old basketball saying goes: You live by the 3, you die by the 3. The Rockets were abysmal from 3-point range, only making 7 out of 44 attempts (15.9%). They set the NBA record for most consecutive 3-pointers missed with 27. The Rockets have been a high volume shooting team all season. The Warriors were able to take the legs from under them.
After a rocky first half, the Warriors imposed their will on the Rockets and played their brand of basketball. The Warriors have a face-paced, quick striking offense that will cause teams to become fatigued. The Rockets were worn out in the second half, outscored 58-38, only scoring 15 points in the 3rd quarter. It is tough to stop the Warriors when they are hitting on all cylinders, feeding off the performances of Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.
What happens now?
The Rockets will now enter the off-season facing a couple of issues. Paul, Capela, along with Trevor Ariza, Luc Mbah a Moute and Gerald Green will enter free agency. The first priority should be re-signing Paul and Capela. Then, the Rockets need to rebuild their bench. Their bench should include a point guard who can be a floor general if Paul goes down. There are reports swirling that the Rockets could go after LeBron James this summer. Although James will be a great addition, the Rockets do not need him. They have enough firepower to make it out the West. It all starts with Harden. He has to learn to be a leader. Everything runs through his play. If Harden wants to become a complete player, he needs to hold himself accountable and use this summer to work on his mentality.
LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES – MARCH 2: Clint Capela of Houston Rockets is seen during the NBA match between Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets at Staples Center in Los Angeles, United States on March 2, 2017. (Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)