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Engaging The Enemy: The Houston Rockets

Well folks it is game night again, and I have had about all I can stand, for this week anyhow, of trying to design a new template for my usual game previews. So what I thought we would do as a simple diversion from the norm, was get with tonight's opponent for a little Q&A.

I reached out to Lee Grammier over at The Dreamshake and he so graciously accepted the invite. Since I am a refugee in Houston from Arlington, Texas I have the privilege of listening to all the Dallas smack talk. Generally speaking people from Houston despise everything in or from Dallas. When ever a Dallas team plays a Houston team it is a big deal around here. 

Another blowout of the Rockets tonight would be awesome. Make sure you stop over and pay a visit to those guys, they will be posting my answers to their questions.

So without further delay here are my questions to The Dreamshake, and what they had to say.

Rockets vs Mavericks preview  Rockets vs Mavericks coverage

Before the season began, many would have said that this year would be a disaster for the Rockets. So far however, it has been anything but disastrous. Playing without a "superstar" the Rockets have been very cable of holding their own. What do you believe this teams realistic goals are for this season?

I legitimately thought this team would be a few games over .500.  Considering they have played the hardest schedule in the league to date and are 3 games over with 2 games they should have won in those losses, I'm very pleased where they are.  Christian wrote a good piece about this today: 25 games into the season.  The realistic goals for this team are pretty similar to my few games over .500 scenario:  A 5-8 seed in the playoffs, and depending on the match-up a potential upset in the first round but likely no chance to get out of the second.


The Mavericks and Rockets play two completely different styles, the Mavs have always been more of a finesse team relying largely on the jump shot skills of Dirk, and Terry. While the Rockets are a much more physical team that plays with a lot of ball movement and unselfishness. There have always been match up issues for both teams, what are some of the more concerning match up problems for this years Rockets when facing the Mavs?

Jason Terry.  I'm almost tempted to just leave it at that, but that wouldn't be fair.  Terry absolutely torches the Rockets and it's getting to be personal.  Dirk is Dirk and there isn't any team in the league that matches up with him.  The rest of it?  I really don't know.  I wish I did, so I could send a note to Rick Adelman so that the Rockets could fix it.  Some of it is that the Mavs are more talented at the upper level and when they are one of the few teams in the league willing to match the Rockets intensity level.

In the first two games of the season series, we have seen both teams at different points of the game shoot unbelievably well. Typically one would say that the defensive effort dropped allowing the other team to get clean looks at the basket. In this case though, on many occasions it has been an individual player just getting extremely hot, and most of the time for the Mavericks it has been Jason Terry a.k.a. "The Rocket Killer". Is there anything the Rockets can do to stop this from happening on Friday?

Terry is a defensive match-up nightmare for the Rockets.  There has been no one on the team that can really guard him, and that's saying something because Shane Battier can guard just about anyone.  The Rockets theory is to make Terry take the ball out of Dirk and Kidd's hands.  Frankly I think it is a terrible idea because Terry has proven it as such.  Ideally Trevor Ariza guards him and that makes a difference.  He has the lateral and overall quickness to keep up with Terry but we'll see if he has the dedication. 

On Tuesday Tracy McGrady made his official return from micro fracture surgery against the Pistons, playing 8 minutes. He then played another 8 minutes on Wednesday against the Nuggets. What is the feeling amongst Rocket fans about T-Mac's return? And will the Rockets try to move McGrady before the deadline? Or are they content to just let him walk after the season?

Among "Rockets fans" those that typically just know the superstars I think people are excited he's back overall.  Amongst the diehards I think it is split pretty much down the middle.  Everyone wants to see him play though, no matter if you are on the "trade him" or "keep him" bandwagon.  Otherwise what's the point?  Just cut him or put him on injured list.  Might as well see if he can 1.  Help the team on the court or 2.  Help the team via trade and the only way to do that is for him to play.  If there is a good trade he'll get traded, if there isn't, he'll be gone after the season.  Daryl Morey will not trade him just to do it.

Looking forward to next season when the Rockets are back at full strength, will this team have to change the way it plays with the return of Yao Ming? Or will this team be in a much better position to utilize his skills?   

Sure they'll change it a bit, but Yao runs better than anyone will ever give him credit for.  His defense is underrated in every way, just look at the Rockets with him and without him.  Now maybe everyone will shut up about it and stop proving how little they know about basketball.  Yao's presence in the middle is intimidating and he controls the paint.  What's kind of funny is that people try and challenge him because of that idiotic idea of him not being great defensively and it plays right into the Rockets hands.



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