How the Houston Rockets Can Stop Phoenix Suns’ Goran Dragic
Dragic has been on an absolute tear recently. The former Rocket has been lights out in his last five games. In that span he is averaging 26.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.2 three-pointers made per game. He’s been on fire from the field, shooting 63.2 percent from the floor and 64.7 percent from three-point range. The veteran guard also has a knack for getting to the free-throw line as he has connected on 72.7 percent of his 6.6 free-throw attempts per game. The Suns won four out of those five games.
Dragic is quick and creates havoc with his ability to shoot, penetrate and create for his teammates. With Eric Bledsoe being out due to injury, he is the driving force behind a high-octane Suns offense that is averaging 104.7 points for the season and currently holds a record of 29-19 in the ultra-difficult Western Conference.
So how will the Rockets slow down Dragic?
Expect Kevin McHale to devise up a plan that will frustrate the All-Star snub. Multiple players will probably have to guard Dragic at one point or another during the game. Expect James Harden, Patrick Beverley, Jeremy Lin, Aaron Brooks and possibly even Chandler Parsons to all spend time defending Dragic at some point.
Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones and the rest of the Houston forwards and centers will also play a key role in stopping Dragic. Not only will they have to serve as rim protectors for when he drives into the lane, but Suns coach Jeff Hornacek will make things difficult on them as well by using his speedy point guard in pick-and-roll situations with his big men. Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris and Channing Frye can all shoot from anywhere on the court while Miles Plumlee brings a different dimension with his physicality and relentlessness inside.
When the Suns do run a pick-and-roll with their bigs, Howard and Jones will have to show hard on the screen and keep Dragic in front of them. If the primary defender is able to fight through the screen and stay with Dragic then the defender that showed on the screen will have to quickly retreat back to the man that set the screen so they don’t get an open look for a jump shot or an easy cut to the basket.
In all likelihood, Beverley will be the player who spends most of the game defending Dragic. He is by far their best defensive point guard. Lin and Brooks are better than Beverley on the offensive end, but if Houston wants to slow down Dragic, Beverley is their best option. He is a tough and gritty defensive player who can get under an opponent’s skin. Harden will also spend some time guarding him, most likely when Beverley is on the bench in order to preserve Harden’s energy for the offensive end. If Parsons guards Dragic it will be just to throw out a different look that maybe the Suns were not expecting with his size and athleticism.
It is also possible that the Rockets will send double teams to create additional pressure. Dragic has turned the ball over 3.8 times per game over his last five contests.
This will undoubtedly be a difficult task for the Rockets, but it will be key if they hope to win on Wednesday night.