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Game 3 Preview: Blazers at Rockets

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Oy...it doesn't get any easier, does it?  The third game of our season-starting road trip may be the toughest.  You know how Golden State had the perfect matchups to exploit Dallas' weaknesses in the playoffs last year?  Houston has just the lineup to exploit us.  On opening night we were the pesky gnat and the Spurs were a cow with a swishing tail flicking us away.  Tonight we'll be a pesky gnat and the Rockets are a bazooka.

The problems start with Yao Ming who has grown into maybe the best pure center in the league.  He averaged 25 points and 9 rebounds last year.  And he's huge...so huge that Joel Przybilla has no chance of stopping him from doing whatever he wants.  Joel is a good defender but not against Yao.  Even strong double teams are going to have a hard time stopping him tonight.

But we can't double team too much because guess what?  The Rockets have a high-scoring perimeter crew.  Tracy McGrady is the obvious name.  We don't have anyone with a prayer of stopping him either.  But say the Rockets get tired of massacring us with Yao and McGrady, the same way your mouse finger used to get tired smashing huge tracts of puny foes playing Diablo back in the day.  Their main guys, both of whom can pass, can always dish it to Mike James, Rafer Alston, Luther Head, Shane Battier, or Bonzi Wells.  All of those guys can score too.

And speaking of Battier, he's really turned into one of the better perimeter defenders in the league.  That means at least one leg of our perimeter attack is going to be thwarted.

And they're #1 in team defense by field goal percentage.

And they're the best defensive rebounding team in the league.

There's probably more, but I think we can stop.

What I'd Like to See

This list is going to be limited because frankly I think we'll be doing well to get out of there with our skin still on.

  1.  If we're to have any hope this has to be a near perfect, incredibly productive night for both Lamarcus and Brandon.  Lamarcus especially will be a key because he has the ability to cause problems for their defenders with his face-up game.  Both guys have got to score a ton and then hope that guys like Travis and Martell score enough to squeeze out a victory.
  2.  We have to run every single chance we get and try to get the ball in the hoop before their defense sets up.  The Rockets aren't a great offensive rebounding team so maybe we can leak out a little.  It should be an all-out charge every time there's even a hint of daylight.
  3.  They don't have good shot blockers so driving is in order.
  4.  When all else fails hustle is good...floor burns and stuff.  Everybody starts equal in that department and the team who wants it most will have the advantage.  You know Yao and Tracy aren't diving after any loose balls.
--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)