Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Rockets Up 2-0, Headed to Utah

The Houston Rockets did what they were supposed to do: win at home. Houston kept their home court advantage by taking both games in Houston. The Rockets now enjoy a 2-0 lead and are headed to Utah for the next two games. However, the Rockets have definitely not been playing “great” basketball. I guess this lends itself to a glass half full or empty argument: Should Rockets fans be glad they were able to win without playing their best or should they be worried that their luck will run out and the Jazz will finally start hitting their shots? So lets go ahead and look at the positives and negatives of the first 2 games. We are going to start with the negatives, so we can end on a positive note…


1- Carlos Boozer v. Rockets “Defense”: As was expected the Rocket defense has been utterly unable to guard Carlos Boozer anywhere on the court. He has hit outside shot and taken it to the rack in a dominant manner. Boozer has 52 points so far (41 on Tuesday). But it seems the Jazz have figured out no one on the court can stop him. Van Gundy tried Yao and Boozer blew by him. They tried several others and Boozer shot over them. So if the Jazz keep finding ways to get Boozer the ball on offense and he continues to hit the mid-range jumper, the Rockets should expect about 35 points a night the rest of the way.

2- T-Mac’s Inconstant Shooting: Tracy McGrady started the series with a 1-11 shooting half. Not the best way to get the playoff “monkey” off your back. McGrady did respond with a monster 2nd half, but that start was concerning. And ever though, he ended up with a nice point total on Tuesday, T-Mac shot 9-29 from the field. Yeah….that’s not a good percentage. Fact is Tracy can shoot well, but has been inconsistent thus far. But what has been nice to see is that he will hit a big shot when it matters. So here’s hoping that there will be less hit and (mostly less) miss out to McGrady’s shooting in Utah.

3- Where did Battier Go?: 6 pts and 2 rbs in game 1, 10pts and 2 rbs in game 2. While his production in game two was more in line with his season stats, it just doesn’t seem like Battier has come up with the huge shots and affected the game as he did in the regular season. I guess everyone is still waiting for that well-timed three-pointer or hustle play that really gets the team going. Good thing Chuck Hayes has taken that role so far (will be discussed later).


1- A 2-0 Lead in the Series: Hey, when it comes down to it, winning is all that matters. I don’t care how pretty it is, winning both your home games and taking a 2-0 lead is never a bad thing. I am going to go ahead and be positive and be glad the Rockets pulled out wins with less than dominant performances. Pulling out just one win in Utah might seal up the series win for the Rockets and ensure the franchises first series win in 10 years

2- Andrei Kirilenko has been Reduced to Tears: You heard me right. Apparently Tom Hanks needs to make an appearance in the Jazz locker room and let Linky know that the no crying rule in baseball also applies to this particular sport. Upset about his game 1 performance and playing time, Andrei lost it with reporters and had to mop up a few tears. It was an uncomfortable situation for everyone. Well, how did Kirilenko buck up and recover his manhood? By going out in Game 2 and going 0-3 from the floor, with 3 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 5 fouls and ZERO points in only 18 minutes of play. I really started feeling bad for him after a while. He looked like he was tearing up after every miss and foul. I hope Deron Williams was able to dish out a few hankies on the plane ride home.

3- Chuck Hayes: What can you say about Chuck Hayes' performance in Game 2? Well, he had 12 points on 5-5 shooting with 12 rebounds (7 offensive) and hustled all over the court. Oh yeah… He created life too! Chuck Hayes also became a father before the game and he definitely made his Baby Mama happy with his effort. Hayes really set the tone early in the game with his hard play on both ends of the court. He rebounded offensively and did a serviceable job guarding Mehmet Okur in the post. If Hayes keeps up this somewhat unexpected production, the Rockets will be a much stronger rebounding and a much deeper team this series. And he has his own fan website.

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