Last week, one writer described the hysteria and and hype in Houston right now as on a scale somewhere between anticipation for the Super Bowl and the new Avengers movie. So to say Houstonians and Texans further afield are pumped for what starts Monday night in Space City may be an understatement as the hometown Rockets take on the Golden State Warriors in the first game of the NBA’s western conference finals.
The winner of the best-of-seven series will be just one step away from being NBA champions. Most basketball insiders see the Rockets and Warriors as the best two teams in the NBA, but one could also argue that they represent something even bigger than that – the next step in the evolution of basketball itself.
Neil Greenberg, a sports analytics reporter for the Washington Post, says they are among the most efficient teams at scoring, because they rely heavily on the three-point shot.
“There’s been a lot of analytics done showing that it’s one of the better shots to take,” Greenberg says. “And there’s no two teams better at creating these type of shots.”
Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey are credited with developing the focus on layups at the rim, shots near the basket, and the three-point shot.
“You look at the shots that the Houston Rockets take and I would say probably about three-fourths of those are in one of those two zones,” Greenberg says. “Way more than most teams in the NBA right now.”
“There’s no doubt that the way that we’re seeing today in the modern NBA is the way of the future,” he says. “The college game is changing and also the players coming out of college are also changing. They’re more versatile. They’re able to do more things. And that in of itself will be a major driver.”
Written by Jen Rice.