Game 51 Preview: Blazers vs. Rockets

Oh great.  As if we weren't having enough trouble now we have to play Houston.  At the beginning of the season I said if there was one team I'd pick for us NOT to win a game against this year it wouldn't be San Antonio or Phoenix or Detroit but the Rockets.  As I've said in both previews so far this year they're just a bear of a matchup for us.  

We have no solution for Yao Ming.  The only thing they can do wrong is ignore him in their offensive attack (which they often do).  Never do we feel so keenly our lack of rebounding as we do when we play this team.  If we could just be assured of grabbing a board or two our big guys could try to outrun Yao down the floor...a task to which they'd surely be equal.  But no such luck.  If our big men run out Yao will simply grab the offensive rebound with one paw and put it back in.  If you put Przybilla in there he'll overpower or go around him.  Plus that gives Yao unbridled license to stay in the middle on defense.  Last time we played the Rockets Lamarcus started in the de facto center position against Yao.  He drew two quick fouls.  Then came Channing Frye.  Two quick fouls.  Finally they moved Joel off of forward Chuck Hayes and stuck him on the big fella.  We lost anyway.  It's just bad news.

Tracy McGrady, true to form, has been out for much of the last month.  He's just gotten back but now is suffering from respiratory illness.  He's playing but not at full strength.  I have not heard a report of his status for tonight.  I actually like T-Mac trying to dominate the offense against us more than I like Yao doing it.  But that's the same as saying you'd rather be shot in the head with a bazooka than run over by a locomotive.

Houston rebounds very well.  That's bad news for us.  Houston defends the interior very well.  That's bad news for us.  Overall they don't shoot all that well, especially from range, but they always seem to save something extra for us in that department--likely because we have to commit so many men to preventing the easy inside looks.  The only guy who shoots free throws well for them is also the only guy who counts--Yao.  I think I'm going to cry now.

What I'd Like to See

  1.  How about a little more energy and focus with Brandon back now?
  2.  How about a couple early fouls on Yao?
  3.  How about our outside shooters finally wake up?
  4.  How about for a change guys like Chuck Hayes, Bonzi Wells, and their shooting point guards DON'T have season-high nights on us?
  5.  How about pigs flying too.
Weird things happen.  Sometimes teams win games they just shouldn't.  Maybe this will be that kind of night.  Odds are, though, it's going to be slow, methodical, and ugly.  And not in the good way either.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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