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The Myth of Live by the 3, die by the 3

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Pizza_Da_Hut, Feb 12, 2015.

  1. Pizza_Da_Hut

    Pizza_Da_Hut I put on pants for this?

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    A lot of attention has been paid to comments Charles Barkley has made about the Rockets lately. If you’re new around here you probably don’t know that Barkley hates us, you probably also don’t know that roughly half of what the Chuckmiester says is pure horse crap. While Chuck didn’t coin the term “Live by the 3, die by the 3” he sure uses it a lot. Why? Well partly because it rhymes, it’s easy to remember, and it’s simple. Does that mean the Rockets are truly one of those teams? I think the answer is a definite no, but before I go into that, let’s examine the statement.


    The idea that a team will live and die by one shot/type of shot makes sense. My interpretation of the “Live by the 3, die by the 3” statement is as follows: let’s say you have a team (team A) and they shoot above average from the 3 point line. This team will go out of their way to construct more shots from that area to turn the game into nothing more than a 3 point shooting contest. Said team will revolve both their offense and their defense around that idea.

    Why and how does it work?


    Ah, the fun part. Let’s take that same team and put them up against another team (team B) that shoots just at an average clip from 3 (and right now let’s just ignore their efficiency from the midrange to the post). Team A fights to get shots from the 3 point line, and because of the point difference it’s like shooting an inflated statistic from the 2 point area (that is shooting 30% from 3 is like shooting 50% from close range). If team B tries to keep pace by shooting 3’s they will lose because they shoot at a lower clip. If team B tries to keep pace shooting 2’s, just at a rather high clip it also puts strain on their own offense because shooting better than 50% from the field is not a trivial task. Assuming everything averages out, the team that shoots threes better wins. (Live by the 3…)
    What happens if team A has an off night? Well then they will probably lose (…die by the three).


    Does that sound like the Rockets? At a cursory level, yes it does. The Rockets take a lot of threes, and they are on pace to take more threes than any team before them. So the Chuckster is right? Not so fast. At best the Rockets are an average 3 point shooting team. The Rockets right now are ranked at 15<sup>th</sup> in the league for 3 pt shooting % (GS is at the top, and teams like the Knicks, the Blazers, and the Pelicans all have better 3 pt shooting than the Rockets).


    If the Rockets are just average from the 3 point line, why do they choose to live and die by it?


    This question is a loaded one, because the answer is they do and don’t. The Rockets system, looks like a LB3DB3 system. In truth, the system is a shoot the easiest shot system. The Rockets use penetration by an amazingly gifted player (Harden) to create open looks by drawing defenders in. Some nights, Harden gets the best of defenses (even when they throw 2/3 guys at him). Other nights, he plays the Clippers or Warriors. Nights like last night put the pressure on the rest of the rockets to step up and drain those uncontested wide open shots. They didn’t. For the Rockets, it’s never a completely live or die by any shot, and even though they have taken the midrange jumper out of their playbook it by no means implies that don’t have options.


    Think back to an earlier time, a time before Ariza, a time before 0.9 seconds on the clock. The Rockets had a certain Parsons on their team, and while his name escapes me, much of what that guy did was shoot threes and make easy 2s. This guy also did something rather special that we don’t see much of anymore: the ugly ass pump fake. See, Parsons would draw defenders in from time to time with that pump fake and then cut to the basket. Ariza does far less of that. When CP25 wasn’t hitting his 3 point shot, he made room for other shots. This broke the steady stream of Harden drive, foul, dish for 3, and created a dynamic to the team we don’t have as much of this year. Heck, look back to last night when Harden was most effective: it was when he cut to the basket and someone (either through a PNR or a back cut) cut with him. We saw passes to Brewer and DMo that resulted in easy shots. Hell, a couple of them looked down right beautiful.


    So what does this all mean?


    Partly it means I don’t want to do my work today, and so I write this. Part of it also means that the Rockets do not have to LB3DB3. McHale needs to modulate shot selection a bit and see when the Rockets aren’t hitting their mark decide to make changes. In this entire tirade I’ve neglected to talk about the Rockets defense and their transition game! Those are other areas where they excel as well! Before this devolves into McFail this, McFail that, I want to point out that McHale was able to do this with a second round pick in Parsons. You add up the collective talent between Ariza and Brewer and you have a better player than Parsons, and better defense. I’m not a card carrying member of the Kevin McHale fan club, but by no means do I think he needs to be fired either. This team has had more personalities than Sybil, but McHale has found a way to pull the right one out almost every night in spite of injuries and slumps. He deserves some credit.

    Ultimately, the Rockets are a take the easiest shot team. The Rockets aren’t GS, they don’t have guys who can make it rain (well other than the Beard), so they adjust. The Rockets aren’t like the Rockets of old on defense either, but they are good. A jack of all trades, a master of none. For the Rockets not to live and die by one type of shot, all they need is a little bit of balance.

    If you’ve read this far, I apologize. Too much caffeine… or not enough.
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  2. zyt

    zyt Member

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    the rockets offense is a result of morey analytics and he been an adament advocate on implementing the so called most efficient shots and almpst eliminate any 2s , when u shoot more 3s than any other teams in nba of course u live and die by it
     
  3. ChumpCity

    ChumpCity Member

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    While I love DM and am fine with the philosophy, it will continue be flawed until he can get more than 1 solid 3pt shooter in this rotation.

    ....it seems they put the cart before the horse
     
  4. Texanasiafan

    Texanasiafan Member

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    Funny thing is : there are tons of team which shooting tons of 2s, especially long 2s like the Knicks or the Blazers.

    But you never heard the term : you Live by the 2, die by the 2.

    See? taking 2 steps back suddenly is so much of a deal.
     
  5. zyt

    zyt Member

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    Jul 11, 2014
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    live by the jumper, die by the jumper, u never heard of it?
     

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