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[Insider] Can the Rockets make the playoffs?

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by senter, Mar 8, 2013.

  1. senter

    senter Member

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    Spoiler alert: yes, yes we can

    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/9030686/nba-new-look-houston-rockets-make-playoffs

    [​IMG]

    Heading into the final 20 games of the regular season, the Houston Rockets continue to be one of the most surprising, not to mention entertaining, teams in the NBA.

    Picked by most pundits to be on the outside looking in come the postseason, the Rockets find themselves in the thick of a tight four-team race for the final three spots in the Western Conference playoffs.

    The Rockets have managed to put themselves within striking distance of their first playoff appearance since 2009 despite radical changes to their roster over the past year, not to mention significant shifts in their offensive philosophy.

    Just 35.3 percent of Houston's minutes have been allocated to players who were on their roster last season, the second-lowest percentage in the NBA. Two of those players -- Marcus Morris and Patrick Patterson -- were moved before the trade deadline, leaving Chandler Parsons and Greg Smith as the only players from last season's team who are still on the Rockets' active roster.

    Seven teams have allocated less than 50 percent of their minutes to returning players this season, and the Rockets are the only one of those teams to post a winning record thus far. In fact, the other six teams -- the Bobcats, Hornets, Magic, Mavericks, Suns and Wizards -- have a combined winning percentage of .323, well below Houston's .532 winning percentage.

    On offense, the Rockets have made a conscious effort to push the pace, averaging a league-high 96.3 possessions per 48 minutes. That represents an increase of 4.6 possessions per 48 minutes compared to last season, when Houston's pace factor of 91.7 was just slightly above the league average of 91.3.

    Of course a change in pace does not mean much without an increase in efficiency, but Houston has been the league's third-most efficient offense, averaging 110.6 points per 100 possessions, an improvement of 5.1 points per 100 possessions over last season.

    Significant increases in both pace and efficiency are not common. Since the 1979-80 season, there have been just six cases in which a team has increased its pace factor by at least 4.0 possessions per 48 minutes and also increased its offensive efficiency by at least 4.0 points per 100 possessions, a group the Rockets are on pace to join.

    One of the main reasons for the uptick in Houston's offensive efficiency has been a focus on taking the most efficient shots possible, namely 3-pointers and shots close to the rim.

    Last season, the Rockets took 24 percent of their shots from 3-point range and 25 percent of their shots within three feet of the rim, numbers that were comparable to the league averages of 22.6 percent and 28.7 percent, respectively.

    But with the new backcourt of Jeremy Lin and James Harden, the Rockets have emphasized a different approach this season, taking 34.7 percent of their shots from behind the arc (second in the NBA) and 34.3 percent of their shots close to the rim (third in the league).

    That emphasis has led to a big increase in their shooting efficiency, as the team's effective field goal percentage has increased from .492 (11th in the league) to .530 (fourth).

    Of course no analysis of the Rockets would be complete without addressing their deficiencies on the defensive end, as Houston is allowing 107.3 points per 100 possessions, the eighth-worst mark in the NBA.

    The Rockets are good at ending possessions when a shot is missed -- they rank second in the league with a defensive rebound percentage of 75.2 -- but those misses are not as frequent as they would like.

    Houston has the league's fifth-worst shot defense, allowing opponents an effective field goal percentage of .512 against them. In particular, the Rockets have been vulnerable to their weapons of choice on offense, the 3-pointer and shots close to the rim.

    Houston's opponents have taken 26.3 percent of their shots from downtown, the seventh-highest rate in the NBA, and they have shot .375 on those attempts, the fifth-best percentage in the league.

    And while the Rockets' defense, led by center Omer Asik, has done a good job minimizing attempts close to the rim -- just 26.1 percent of its opponents' shots, the third-lowest rate in the league -- it is allowing a field goal percentage of .661 on those shots, the league's third-worst percentage.

    Despite their problems on defense, the Rockets are still a heavy favorite to clinch a playoff spot. Basketball-Reference.com runs a daily report that summarizes the results of 1,000 simulations of the remainder of the season, and on Friday, the site gave Houston a 94.7 percent chance of making the playoffs.

    Why is this figure so high for a team with just a two-game lead over the ninth-place Lakers? There are two main reasons.

    The first reason is Houston's schedule. Based on the Simple Rating System -- a system that takes into account both point differential and the quality of an opponent -- the Rockets have played the league's fourth-toughest schedule to date. But for the remainder of the season, Houston will play the league's eighth-easiest schedule while Utah, who sits a half-game behind the Rockets, will close out the season facing the league's fifth-toughest schedule.

    The second reason is that the Rockets probably are better than their record suggests. A team with Houston's point differential would be expected to have a record of 38-24, but at 33-29 the Rockets are underperforming their expectations by five games. In most cases, this is simply a matter of bad luck and is not something that would be predicted to continue in the future.

    Thanks to their unique style of play, the Rockets have become one of the most compelling stories of 2012-13. And if the numbers prove to be true, that story won't end at the conclusion of the regular season.

    Bonus 5 on 5!

    3. At the end of the regular season, the Rockets will be __________.


    Churney: Ready to fight. Of all the teams looking at the seventh or eighth seed in the West (including the Lakers), I still believe that Houston will have the best opportunity to win in the first round. Their defense may be porous, but they have the capability of catching fire enough to win four games in a seven-game series.

    Huq: No. 6 in the West. The Rockets have a stretch coming up where they'll enjoy home cooking in nine out of 10 games. They'll take care of business and validate Hollinger's current 97 percent odds for a postseason berth. With James Harden playing at an All-NBA level, Houston will avoid a collapse like last season's.

    Robb: Capable of a first-round upset. The Rockets can score with any team in the league on any given night. With James Harden looking to redeem himself after an underwhelming performance in the NBA Finals, Houston will be the team none of the top seeds want to see at the start of the postseason.

    Wallace: The No. 7 seed. The final six weeks of the regular season will get much wilder as Golden State, Utah, Houston and the Los Angeles Lakers battle for the final three playoff spots. As it stands now, signs point to a first-round reunion between Houston's James Harden and his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    Winter: The team no top seed wants to face. Houston plays like no other team in the NBA, flying up and down the floor with reckless abandon and putting extra emphasis on attacking the rim and bombing away from deep. That style isn't a recipe for playoff success historically, but the Rockets will try to run the opposition into the ground regardless.
     
  2. Carl Herrera

    Carl Herrera Contributing Member

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    9th place here we come.
     
  3. andersongo

    andersongo Member

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    Jinx thread :mad:
     
  4. MOHRocketeer

    MOHRocketeer Rookie

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    Interesting how it says we should have 5 more wins and that this team seems to actually be underperforming in a way
     
  5. haoafu

    haoafu Contributing Member

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    No injuries please. It's more important for the big picture than playoff.
     
  6. Ultimate6thMan

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    That's what a lot of Clutchfans members have been saying all along.

    The bad luck mentioned is what we call "bad coaching".

    Just for the record again, I am not a LOF. I am a Houston Rockets fan!
     
  7. Patterned919

    Patterned919 Member

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    Do you know how to read?

    He said based off point differential.
     
  8. megastahr

    megastahr Contributing Member

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    Its been a while that I had high playoff expectations...but at the height of my enthusiasm I usually awoke one more to find out our best player was out for the season. :(

    hopefully the curse is broken.
     
  9. Ultimate6thMan

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    I understand EXACTLY what he said. Can you read? I said other Clutchfans members have said the same thing as well. :eek:
     
  10. RockingRox

    RockingRox Member

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    It might not be bad coaching in this analysis. It may very well be that the Rockets has been developing along the way. We had been bad at the beginning of the season. This may skew the number a little bit.
     
  11. Second_Cousin

    Second_Cousin Member

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    I there sting they attribute that to luck when the only game I can think of for that being true is the recent Bucs game. The others are on McFail.
     
  12. AggNRox

    AggNRox Member

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    i am interested in that part of the paper too.

    here is my take on that statement.

    young and inexperience, including both players and coaches, are major factors to the underperformance. to the end, those factors may very well push us out of the playoff picture. to overcome them and to get into the playoff, our rotation has to be set. everyone has to know what his role is, whether starts or sits on bench, who closes out game, who is primary ball handler, who is our lockdown defender, who plays spot up shooter, and ... changing consistently will not help to get over those factors.
     
  13. Ming The King

    Ming The King Member

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    It is not because bad luck
    It is not because bad couching

    It is because we a a young team and couldn't handle a lot of game in the last minutes
    We lost all the OT we play. And we lost a lost of game in the las minutes. Bucks wizards, the last game agains dallas
    And we win only a few off this games
     
  14. AggNRox

    AggNRox Member

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    coaches are young in the context of their coaching experience.
     
  15. Sports2012

    Sports2012 Member

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    Good points.
     
  16. Patterned919

    Patterned919 Member

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    How exactly are you interpreting the stat? McHale is inextricably linked to the point differential stat you are trying to use against him. It makes no sense to try to use it as a criticism against him underachieving because the stat itself is a measure of what he and this team have accomplished. It's not a stat predicting what we should be accomplishing, it's literally the results of what he's accomplished so far. He's attributing it to bad luck because wins and losses and point differential can be related linearly, the reason it's not is because of the outliers we've had this season which throw off the data.

    It's not measuring the nights we lost or the nights we won, or when we should have won or shouldn't have won. All it is is a measure of the average difference between our points and our opponent's points. Typically that'll fall in line with wins and losses. The reason it's skewed is because we've blown out teams like GSW, UTA, and some other team by 40+ points. Those type of nights have a big effect on the averages when the usual difference is suppose to be within 5 points. There are other things that make wins/losses & point differential less relatable as well, i.e. schedule and other variables.
     
  17. wapz

    wapz Member

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    Mchale factor will rear itself in this last stretch. Hopefully he has learned this lesson and make this team realize its true potential.

    We will see later w the dubs
     
  18. Lihao

    Lihao Member

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    thanks for sharing , didn't saw this thread , was asking whether anyone could share it at another thread just now :grin:
     
  19. Patterned919

    Patterned919 Member

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    Also, the only other team that I can recall which has had blowouts of our magnitude is OKC. Their stats are also skewed. OKC is number 1 in point differential yet they don't have the best record.
     
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