There is a curious piece of statistic in the numbers of the Houston Rockets. Of the 15 players who played 100 minutes or more during in the regular season, only one attempted just one 3-point shot. That player is Clint Capela.
The Congolese/Angolan-Swiss center is the only one out of those who have played 150 postseason minutes or more, who is yet to launch a shot from range. That’s a strange statistic for a team that attempted 3,470 treys in the regular season, leading all teams, and 120 in the 12 postseason games they’ve played so far.
It’s stranger still, when one considers that coach Mike D’Antoni encourages the players to be comfortable shooting threes. He said of PJ Tucker, whose shooting has been on and off in the postseason but delivered 5-6 treys in the second game against the Golden State Warriors:
“You know, if he misses all of them—and I told him at a certain point he can affect the game so many ways. You make them, you make them. If you take five and miss five and we take a hundred shots, who cares. So don’t even worry about it. But he’s not hesitating. He finds a way to affect the game.”
But D’Antoni has different instructions for Capela, forbidding him to take shots from range. “I’ve had that conversation [about taking treys] with a lot of those players. That’s what we believe. If you’re open, you shoot them. I don’t care who you are. Except I won’t let Clint [Capela] shoot threes yet. But everybody else knows, if they are open, they shoot it. It doesn’t matter, if you’re playing hard and not taking selfish shots that will not affect the game negatively if you miss them.”
The Houston Rockets’ offense is majorly predicated on the team forcing opponents to commit turnovers, and burn them in transition with open shooters. And Capela is the fulcrum of that. “Clint is always huge just because we have that presence at the rim. Our whole key was getting stops, running and by doing that, which is what we want to do every day. It doesn’t work all the time; we’re able to control the game. But we do it from the defensive end first. We know that, they know it. We’ve just got to keep repeating it,” D’Antoni explained.
So next time the Rockets start firing treys, don’t expect Capela to pull up and pop one. He is under orders.