The high-octane Rockets are shutting down the defending champion Warriors with the kind of defense not seen in Houston since Hakeem Olajuwon.
the combination of the Rockets’ switching scheme and the sheer force of will took the Warriors’ identity crisis on the offensive end to yet another level.
The status of Rockets point guardChris Paul looms large on this front, of course, as he is the head of the defensive snake that improved from 18th in defensive rating last season before his arrival to sixth this time around.
Consider the evidence five games in against the Warriors ...
♦ Before the Warriors scored 92 points in Game 3 and 94 in Game 4, they had averaged 111.8 points in 13 playoff games. They led the league in scoring during the regular season (113.5 points per game).
♦ After averaging 322.7 passes per game during the regular season, this Warriors squad that believes so heavily in ball movement andtargets 300 as a magic number of sortshas been forced to change its ways. They have yet to reach the 300 mark in this series, posting an average of 273 through four games. And while the Game 5 number hadn’t been tallied yet as of publication, it’s safe to assume it will be in that range.
♦ The Warriors, who averaged a league-best 29.3 assists in the regular season, are averaging 18.2 assists in this series. Kevin Durant’s decline in this department has been the most stark, as he is averaging just two assists per game after a regular season in which his 5.4 mark was just a tenth away from matching his career high.
So now that we’re deep enough into this series to call this a trend, it’s enough to make you wonder: Do the Rockets simply want this more than the Warriors?