Eric Gordon

Odds of Rockets missing 27 straight 3-pointers vs. Warriors was insane

Odds of Rockets missing 27 straight 3-pointers vs. Warriors was insane

It was a (non) shooting display unlike anything we have ever seen.

On this day two years ago, May 28, 2018, the Houston Rockets set an NBA playoff record by missing 27 consecutive 3-pointers in their Game 7 loss to the Warriors in the Western Conference finals.

The Rockets led by 15 points in the first half, but due to a classic Warriors third-quarter explosion -- and all those Houston missed 3s -- Golden State walked away with a 101-92 victory.

It’s a highlight that has been the bane of the Rockets’ existence for the last two years, and one that Warriors fans love to jeer about at any given moment.

But just how unlikely were those 27 straight misses?

Two years ago, FiveThirtyEight did the math and well, it was highly improbable.

As in, 1-in-72,000 improbable.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

FiveThirtyEight published a story the day after the game that used Quantified Shot Probability (qSP) data in order to “weigh the likelihood of a shot going in depending on who’s taking it, how close the nearest defender is to the shot, and how quickly that player is closing out -- from Second Spectrum and NBA Advanced Stats, which use high-level cameras to track on-court movement.”

With this data in hand, FiveThirtyEight concluded that the “Rockets embarked on an approximately 1-in-72,000 cold streak from deep at the worst possible time, with a trip to the Finals on the line.”


The Rockets’ misses were spread pretty evenly throughout the team, led by James Harden, of course, who went 0-10 during the span (Harden shot 36.7 percent from deep during the 2017-18 regular season). Eric Gordon (35.9 percent) missed seven, and Trevor Ariza (36.8 percent) missed six of his own.

[RELATED: Watch Steph and Klay's 10 most clutch shots of career]

Happy two-year anniversary to this glorious game, Warriors fans. And next time the odds might seem long, remember that stranger things have happened. 

One-in-72,000 strange.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Where Warriors need to improve to advance past Rockets in NBA playoffs

Where Warriors need to improve to advance past Rockets in NBA playoffs

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

It is time to give credit where credit is due. The Houston Rockets have been outplaying the Warriors the last couple of games and the series has been as close as advertised. All four games so far in these Western Conference Semifinals have been decided by five or fewer points, making a tied series seem appropriate.

In Games 3 and 4, the Rockets imposed their will on the Warriors, played with more urgency and physicality. Unlike the Clippers, who also played with grit and hustle, the Rockets run a very disciplined offense centered around a superstar that is playing up to his high standards.

Meanwhile, Houston's defense is quite skilled at switching on the perimeter which makes it more difficult for the Dubs to fire from deep. The Rockets have been crashing the boards with ferocity, led by undervalued yet dominant wing P.J. Tucker, exposing the Warriors at one of their biggest weaknesses.

So if Houston is going to play this well from here on out, where can the Warriors improve to retake the lead in the series?

Get the Splash Brothers hot

The most obvious and glaring improvement will need to come from the Splash Brothers. It has been well-chronicled that Steph Curry has had an underwhelming series thus far, dealing with a dislocated middle finger and a sore ankle. In Game 4, however, Curry showed much improvement, attacking and finishing at the rim with ease, playing effective defense without fouling unnecessarily, and finding his teammates for buckets.

In fact, Steph's eight assists last game were his highest total in the last 21 regular season and playoff games, dating back to March 18. The one clear hole in his game has been his three-point shot, where he has now made fewer than five 3s for the eighth straight game. Coming home for Game 5 at Oracle, I'd anticipate a revival for Steph from deep.

The more subtle -- but also significant -- disparity in the series thus far has been the shooting guard battle. To much surprise, at least from the Warriors side, Eric Gordon has been outplaying Klay Thompson. Gordon has been an underrated piece of a very skilled Rockets team, potentially taking the role as the second-most dangerous player after James Harden. Gordon has consistently attacked the Warriors defense, especially after made baskets and early-shot clock situations before the defense can get settled.

Meanwhile, Klay Thompson has not found his shooting stroke. Typically when Klay is looking for his offensive game, he steps up his normally impressive defense. But lately and most specifically in Game 4, Klay struggled to defend Gordon and Harden. Thompson committed undisciplined fouls and let the Rockets catch him off guard on multiple occasions.

Klay is one of the most self-confident and unfazed players in the NBA, so it would be hard to imagine his struggles continuing much longer. Much like Curry, I'd expect Klay to blossom yet again in front of a raucous Oracle crowd.

More from the bench

The "Strength in Numbers" motto for the Warriors has not been a strength whatsoever this series. The depth of the bench has already been severely hindered with the loss of DeMarcus Cousins and the need for Andre Iguodala to join the starting lineup. However, key bench players that had been relied upon throughout the season are now struggling, and it is showing.

As anticipated, it has been hard to play Andrew Bogut this series because of the small-ball that the Rockets employ. Jordan Bell and Quinn Cook both have some specific weaknesses that the Warriors coaching staff thinks Houston will exploit, leaving them out of the rotation.

Kevon Looney, the most consistent and typically most effective role player against opponents like this, has not looked completely comfortable yet, though he has had momentary flashes of his old self. Alfonzo Mckinnie has provided some solid rebounding from the wing position, but can no longer be counted on to hit a much-needed corner three. 

The biggest hole as of now, however, has been Shaun Livingston. The Warriors have long considered Livingston one of their most reliable players. But so far these playoffs, Livingston has been out of sorts and just a bit slow.

It is possible all the physical ailments and wear and tear he has been dealing with the entire season have finally caught up with him, but the Warriors need Shaun to step up if they plan to keep playing him for 15 minutes a game. He has been such a key cog in the Warriors dynasty and Steve Kerr will not lose faith in him. He is a veteran leader on the team, and I'd guess he has some big moments left in the tank.

Meanwhile, the role players for Houston have been efficient and effective, hitting their open 3s and hustling on defense. The Warriors need their bench to match the Rockets physicality and energy on the defensive end. Perhaps their shots will fall eventually too. 

[RELATED: Iguodala tells Kerr he'll be find heading into Game 5]

The Rockets are ready to fight and wrestle in the series. The Warriors will have to take the intensity that they've played with for the final minutes of these last couple games and extend it throughout the game.

The series has now become a best-of-three. If the Warriors shore up just a few of their issues, they should still win it. 

Warriors set franchise 3-point record; Splash Brothers lead NBA duos

Warriors set franchise 3-point record; Splash Brothers lead NBA duos

Stop the presses. The Warriors set another franchise record.

It seems like an everyday occurrence at this point.

Golden State was manhandled in its final game of the regular season Wednesday, but not before making history with its fourth 3-pointer of the evening.

Jacob Evans' trey with 2:12 remaining in the first quarter of the Warriors' eventual loss to the Grizzlies marked their 1,078th 3-pointer of the season, eclipsing the previous franchise record of 1,077 set in the 2015-16 season.

The Warriors didn't lead the NBA in 3-pointers this season. Not even close, actually. Their season total of 1,087 made threes ranked eight in the league, well behind Houston (1,323) in first. Although, that was on 897 fewer attempts than the Rockets.

Golden State did, however, have two players who combined for more 3-pointers than any other two teammates this season. With Klay Thompson's three treys in the regular-season finale, he and Steph Curry combined for 595 3-pointers this season on 1,409 attempts. Believe it or not, that was one -- one -- 3-pointer more than the 594 that Houston guards James Harden and Eric Gordon combined for on 1,628 attempts.

[RELATED: Warriors to face Clippers in first round of NBA playoffs]

So, yes, the Warriors still have the best shooting backcourt in the league (if not NBA history). Not that there was ever really any doubt about that.