Taking care of the basketball is almost a given at any level against any sort of competition.
In an NBA playoff series, against the best the planet has to offer it's paramount.
The Houston Rockets have been turning the ball over at an alarming rate through the first two games against the Warriors in their Western Conference Semifinals series.
In Game 1, what turned out to be only a four-point loss for Houston, the Rockets committed 16 turnovers. In Game 2, a six-point loss, Houston gave the ball away 18 times.
The days of Mike D'Antoni orchestrating the fastest pace in the league are over. Everyone plays fast now, and while the league has sped up its tempo D'Antoni's Rockets have slowed theirs down. The Rockets finished 27th in pace this season, in large part to James Harden's isos.
So far in the postseason their style and pace of play has stayed the same, and it's made their turnovers so much more debilitating. No team has given up more points per game off turnovers in these playoffs than the Rockets at 18.6. If the Rockets plan on having a different outcome in Game 3 on Saturday night it's going to start there - protect the rock.
The pressure has been on Harden to match his level of play from the regular season, but the real pressure and focus needs to be on empty possessions and turnovers.
Harden led the league in turnovers with a total of 387 - an average of 5.0 per game.
Chris Paul hasn't been much better with the rock in hand either. Through seven playoff games, Paul is averaging 4.0 turns per game.
The duos assist-to-turnover ratio so far in the playoffs is almost comical with Harden at 1.32 and Paul at 1.29. The Rockets want the ball in the hands of their two best players, but they both need to be better in their decision making and limiting mistakes on offence. If you removed the combined 9.4 turnovers per game between Paul and Harden the Rockets would have a playoff-low 6.3 turnovers per game.
Harden has been incredible this season - all the stats and advance numbers tell you that. His value alone is the reason why some had the Rockets winning this series. Paul is on the backend of his career there's no denying that, but he's still a capable number two option on a team with championship aspirations.
Despite the mistakes so far in the first two games, the Rockets have yet to be blown out. They had a chance to tie Game 1 late and battled in Game 2 missing their MVP candidate for much of the game.
If they limited their turnovers the series could be completely different, if they don't limit them on Saturday night, the series will stay the same.
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