1. Welcome! Please take a few seconds to create your free account to post threads, make some friends, remove a few ads while surfing and much more. ClutchFans has been bringing fans together to talk Houston Sports since 1996. Join us!

Chron: Rockets must now beware of Big D — mainly No. 41

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Rockets34Legend, Apr 19, 2005.

  1. Rockets34Legend

    Rockets34Legend Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2002
    Messages:
    20,840
    Likes Received:
    15,757
    http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/sports/3142057

    By JOHN P. LOPEZ
    Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

    In so many ways, this was the perfect kind of Rockets sendoff to Big D; the perfect way for playoff dreams to start dancing in so many heads.

    But in one way, it was so very scary.

    Given that Big D does not stand for Dallas or defense, but Dirk, as in Nowitzki, beyond the waltz that was this 115-90 victory was a foreboding, disconcerting beat.

    Clippers power forward Elton Brand scored 36 points on 15-of-19 shooting Monday night, torching everything and everyone the Rockets tried against him.

    His effort was mostly lost amid the beauty of everything else the Rockets did so well on this night and have done well the past two weeks. But Brand's night was only the latest in a string of power forwards getting big numbers and easy shots against the biggest question mark in the Rockets' game.

    For all they do right, the one thing they consistently do wrong, especially since Juwan Howard landed on the injured list, is defend power forwards.

    It is only the deepest, most talented position in the Western Conference.

    "Night in, night out, you don't get any breaks," Brand said. "That's the way it is. You have to aspire to be great to survive."

    Yet the Rockets come with power forwards Clarence Weatherspoon, Scott Padgett and Ryan Bowen. Depending whom is on the floor, some kind of shortcoming will be exposed, whether it is defending post-ups, keeping up with fleeter power forwards, scoring or having the size and bulk to muscle up.

    And those shortcomings only will be amplified now that the first-round opponent is Dallas instead of Seattle.

    Big threat in the West

    Here comes Nowitzki, he of the 53-point effort against the Rockets earlier this season when the four-position actually was better fortified than it is now. Had the playoff draw instead been the Sonics, the power-forward opponent would have been one of the easier covers in the conference, Reggie Evans.

    That matchup, along with the Rockets' success against Seattle this season, sort of makes you wonder why the Rockets didn't — wink, wink — unfortunately allow some of these late-season games slip away. Then, they could have slipped to a much better draw in the six-hole.

    Too late now.

    It's Dallas and an I-45 series. It's Nowitzki and the Rockets' hope that they can keep him from having the kind of overwhelming nights he has had even against better power forwards.

    If Brand can score 36 on 15-of-19 shooting, what might Nowitzki have? You have to wonder. And worry.

    No question, Monday night's game had the sizzling Rockets doing so many things right. And one thing very, very wrong.

    The Rockets scooted past the young Clippers so impressively. They built a double-digit lead in the first-quarter, sizzling to a 40-point first quarter.

    And then they got hot.

    They lit up the board for 70 first-half points, knocking down shots like it was all just a game of H-O-R-S-E.

    Close to greatness

    The Rockets saw Tracy McGrady playing that flowing game that just keeps getting better.

    Since becoming a Rocket and finding comfort in Jeff Van Gundy's offense, McGrady has begun to show traits that only the likes of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson once showed.

    That is, he becomes a kind of basketball chameleon. He has the ability to play big, small, selfishly or unselfishly, depending on the club's needs.

    To begin this two-step toward the first-round match with the Mavericks, it was as if McGrady told himself, "OK, today I'm going to have assists."

    And so it was done. He had eight of his 10 assists in the first quarter, always knowing where to put the ball and when to put it there.

    Later, he decided to score. And so that was done. He tossed in a few highlights for the paying public before sneaking to the bench, smiling and winking at someone in the crowd, as if he hardly broke a sweat and it will all be so easy.

    Maybe it will be. So long as the Rockets have McGrady, you can feel good about playoff hopes. So long as everything else falls into place, there will be that chance to win a series for the first time since 1997.

    So long as they shoot free throws like this (22-of-24),
    3-pointers like this (13-of-26), get bench production like this and have Yao Ming efficient like this, you can feel like they're unbeatable.

    But then there's the biggest question of all. Will anyone be able to stop Big D? All in all, the Rockets may well end up wishing they were in Seattle.

    john.lopez@chron.com
     
  2. GladiatoRowdy

    GladiatoRowdy Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2002
    Messages:
    16,596
    Likes Received:
    494
    The D I am concerned about is Dampier. He plays Yao very well and we need Yao to draw doubles. If Dampier is playing well, they may let him go heads-up against Yao, negating one of our biggest strengths.

    That being said, Dampier is returning from injury, which will hopefully limit his productivity. I love seeing Bradley come in since Yao always torches him.
     
  3. gucci888

    gucci888 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2002
    Messages:
    17,088
    Likes Received:
    6,358
    Damp does play Yao well and probably well enough not to double Yao.

    But this article is right on, its going to come down to Dirk. We were letting Brand get all the shots he wanted because his teamates couldn't hit jack. But this is clearly not the case in Dallas, Terry-Stack-Finley-KVH have been playing unbelievable since Avery took over.

    This should be a great series, probably the most intruiging matchup of the 1st round. Let's go Rockets!!
     
  4. redcapital

    redcapital Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2005
    Messages:
    310
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well, we can put the same question to the Mavs "Will anyone be able to stop Big M as in Mac&Ming?"

    Mavs know we have an unstoppable SF in T-mac and better center in Ming. But they are not worried. why? Because they think they are better as a TEAM. So, the key is we must play like a TEAM. We can beat them as a better TEAM. So, basically everyone has to step up and give their best effort. That's how we are gonna stop Big D.
     
    #4 redcapital, Apr 19, 2005
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2005
  5. Williamson

    Williamson JOSH CHRISTOPHER ONLY FAN
    Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2002
    Messages:
    15,312
    Likes Received:
    18,598
    This article makes for good drama, but the fact of the matter is the Rockets have got to be able to get through teams like Dallas if they're ever going to make it to the Finals. Finding a team in the Western conference playoffs that isn't a tough match up is nearly impossible. Seattle may be the only one right now, and even that is just because they're banged up. Everybody is focusing on how they'd rather see the Rockets play the Sonics in the first round, but playing the Sonics in the first round would mean meeting the Spurs in the second round. I'd much rather see the Suns in the second round.
     
  6. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 1999
    Messages:
    34,200
    Likes Received:
    13,644
    This paragraph annoyed me because it didn't recognize the danger of falling to 7 with a tank job. Wouldn't it be nice to tank to dodge the Mavs only to end up drawing the Spurs instead?
     
  7. sjackson0

    sjackson0 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2002
    Messages:
    1,494
    Likes Received:
    160
    I don't worry about Dampier at all. Dirk scares the horse dooky out of me and for some reason (maybe the past haunts me) Mike Finley will show up this series. We just have to be running on full cylinders! I don't believe we have to be great to beat Dallas......we just have to be really good at what we do as a team. The Rockets can not afford to be "alright" or "subpar" We will loose in 5 or 6 with that mess. We can save being "great" for the Spurs or even better....the Pistons/Heat in the finals
     
  8. Dr of Dunk

    Dr of Dunk Clutch Crew

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 1999
    Messages:
    45,231
    Likes Received:
    31,226
    I almost have taken the stance that Dirk's going to drop 25-40 points on you no matter what defense you play on him, so let him get his. It's everybody else I'm worried about.
     
  9. Varunan

    Varunan Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2002
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    0
    Same thoughts.

    I also didn't like how the author doesn't realize that going through No. 4 seed Dallas, and then No. 1 seed Phoenix, is an easier way to get to the WC Finals, rather than beating up a thin third seed in Seattle, then having to beat San Antonio on the road in the second round (which would be a jump from a very mediocre playoff team in the first round, to the best team in the league in the second).

    Frankly, I want to make progress this season. Last year we were bumped in the first round, and this year I want to make it out, but in all honestly a victory over Seattle and an ass-whooping by San Antonio wouldn't make me feel like we accomplished more this year than we did last.

    I'd much prefer a first-round victory in Dallas, even if we get bumped in the next round by Phoenix. With the confidence a first-round victory over Dallas would give us, however, I wouldn't be surprised if we beat Phoenix in the second round and found ourselves in the Western Conference Finals.

    At that point, with a player like McGrady, anything can happen.
     
  10. tmac

    tmac Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2004
    Messages:
    692
    Likes Received:
    233
    Obviously, we're going to have big problems with good 4s for the rest of the year. But the advantage of the playoffs is that it gives Van Gundy several days to scheme defensively. So hopefully, we'll have a few different things for Dallas to deal with.
     
  11. krosfyah

    krosfyah Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2001
    Messages:
    7,440
    Likes Received:
    1,100
    I disagree. Yao can score on anybody in the league 1-on-1 including Shaq. Yao will make you pay. Unfortunately, Yao too often crumbles with double teams. He goes from dominant to MIA.

    Yao needs to dominate with single coverage (as he normally does) and be consistent if he sees double teams. If he does that, everything else will come much easier, IMO.
     
  12. GladiatoRowdy

    GladiatoRowdy Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2002
    Messages:
    16,596
    Likes Received:
    494
    Not necessarily. In June, we might be faced with Udonis Haslem.
     
  13. Rockets2K

    Rockets2K Clutch Crew

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2000
    Messages:
    18,050
    Likes Received:
    1,270
    I really think that is the wrong way to look at it.

    When measuring the progress of this team, you shouldnt just look at ho wfar they managed to get, but how well are they playing as a team and how well are they buying into the philosophy and identity of unselfish hardnosed team play.

    With your basic core players comfortable and well-versed in the VG Way....any new players will be easily indoctrinated into their role come next season...the point is....that we have made huge process as a team regardless of playoff advancement....

    The big thing we should want as fans is that our players get experience working together in playoff situations and hopefully learn what it takes to advance past a opponent that they are not better than...

    It would be different if the same team we had last year couldnt get farther...but these guys aint them....this is a totally different team and I can live with reasonable progress towards the ultimate goal....just as long as progress is being made,
     
  14. Varunan

    Varunan Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2002
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    0
    We share the same philosophy (that improvement isn't measured by whether we get out of the first round, but by the quality of ball we're playing), that's why I said I didn't think beating Seattle would be progress from last year (when we fell to a hands-down better team in the Lakers), as we're the hands-down better team against the Sonics.

    I think where we differ is our view of what would constitute progress for this year's Rockets, outside of playoff advancements.

    My point is that falling to Dallas in the first round, although not a disaster, is not an improvement upon falling to last year's Lakers in the first round. Sure, we could gut it out with them - playing with heart and hustle - and still lose... but guess what, that's what we did last year against a much better team than this year's Mavs (Laker's '04 with Daddy, Kobe, Mailman and Glove would handle Mav's '05 with Dirk, Finley, Stack, Damp, etc.).

    Now, of course I am far more content with our roster going into this year's postseason than I was with our roster going into last year's postseason, but that's not the issue. We made all of these trades to win a championship (that's the goal). In order to do that, we need to make progress, and any way you slice it, regardless of one's personal opinions on our style of play and philosophy, if we continue to fall year-after-year in the first round, we've never made progress as a team.

    Now, that's not to say that if we don't get out of the first round this year, we'll never make progress. But until we do that, with a first round loss against Dallas, at best we've built our team back up to the status it was at by the 2004 playoffs (a gritty team with talent and potential, outclassed by a better team in the first round), after having taken a temporary step back with all the roster movement.

    Optimism would lie in the idea that once these guys have another year under they're belt, they'll soon be dangerous (and presumably get out of the first round). If it worked out that way and they got out of the first round in 2006, then fine, progress was made. But if they didn't, and got bounced in the first round again, you simply can't say that they've progressed.

    In other words, basketball is results-oriented. Progress is determined by who you beat, combined with how far you've advanced. With Dallas? I think the talent disparity between us and them is far less than it was between us and the Lakers last year (and this year, it's arguably in our favor); we need to beat them to claim progress from losing to the Lakers last year.
     
    #14 Varunan, Apr 20, 2005
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2005
  15. Asian Sensation

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 1999
    Messages:
    17,940
    Likes Received:
    6,953
    In Jeff Van Gundy I trust. I have full faith that he is and will be the reason why we defeat the Mavs.
     

Share This Page

  • About ClutchFans

    Since 1996, ClutchFans has been loud and proud covering the Houston Rockets, helping set an industry standard for team fan sites. The forums have been a home for Houston sports fans as well as basketball fanatics around the globe.

  • Support ClutchFans!

    If you find that ClutchFans is a valuable resource for you, please consider becoming a Supporting Member. Supporting Members can upload photos and attachments directly to their posts, customize their user title and more. Gold Supporters see zero ads!


    Upgrade Now