The Houston Rockets are in a dire situation. They've lost six and a row and are staring at the reality of not making the playoffs this season. In basketball, you're taught that if things aren't working out offensively then a good recourse can be to be aggressive and get to the rim. Only problem is, the Houston Rockets don't have anyone really good at doing that.
The folks over at Red 94 did an awesome breakdown on the key struggles of the Rockets during the 6-game losing streak, but the free throw struggles deserve the extra focus under the microscope:
They didn’t get to the free-throw line. With no consistent presence on the interior apart from Luis Scola (who in my opinion remains underrated), the Rockets were never confused with an elite teams that gets to the free-throw line. Speedy Goran Dragic has the ability to draw contact better than almost every player in the league, but he’s human, and the toll his relatively small frame took dancing in the lane simply wasn’t sustainable. The Rockets lived and died on jump shots and threes.
They ranked 27th over the last 10 games in free-throw rate, meaning their free-throws attempted relative to their field goals attempted was flat out awful. In games like this, where possession after possession becomes more and more important, the free-throw line is THE place to live. Throughout the season this was a problem for the team (they’re currently ranked right after Dallas at 28th) and as I mentioned earlier, personnel is clearly an issue…but come on. The fact of the matter is that these games were physical battles, and if it took guys expanding upon their own comfort levels to get wins, then that’s what needed to be done. Obviously, that didn’t happen.
The Rockets have three games remaining versus Golden State, Miami and New Orleans. Do the Rockets have to win all three to make the dance? Probably so, and getting to the line would probably help.