The giddy hangover induced by Game 3 has somewhat subsided (only to be replaced by an NFL Draft hangover). The Rockets need another victory tonight in Utah. So far the Rockets are the only team to win twice in Utah this year. Though we kinda need to also be the only team to win three times now, too. It can be done.
Things to look for today?
1. Big game from Luis Scola. Scola has been productive, but he's not shooting very well in the first three games. If he can go up strong for layups and not try to avoid contact, he can draw fouls and take easier shots. I foresee a 8-12 FG, 20 point, 12 rebound game from Luis tonight. And his tag-team partner will be there as well. Just missing a tooth (a fake tooth, but still...)
2. Tracy McGrady to hopefully not revert to long-distance T-Mac. I was overjoyed that Tracy eschewed the three-pointer from his game on Thursday. I hope he maintains that approach and takes the ball strong to the basket again. If the box score has another 1-5 on 3s next to Tracy's name, that is not a good indicator for success tonight.
3. the Finger Wag. We haven't seen much from Dikembe this series. Tonight is the night he sets the tone early and gets a few early blocks (I hope!!). Wagging the finger at Utah Jazz fans would be particularly awesome, too.
Things I hope to avoid today?
1. Foul trouble. I anticipate a few lopsided calls in the Jazz favor tonight. I have no idea who the referees are just yet, but the Rockets need to know that the refs will likely not be bailing them out of anything and a couple ticky-tack offensive fouls on picks or push-offs is probably going to be called. Probably on Scola too; he's a bit handsy. Rise above it, Rockets.
2. A potential big game from Carlos Boozer. Men who stab blind men in the front for money do not deserve good karma. That said, Boozer has been relatively quiet so far. If he goes for 30+ tonight, we need to find a way to counter that (Scola? Landry? Battier? ... Mike Harris??)
3. This is huge. The Rockets MUST avoid an early deficit. It's one thing to make a 10 point comeback attempt at home. The Jazz are expecting a blowout still. An early sizeable lead would only instill confidence in guys like Kirilenko, Okur, Price and Harpring. Please do whatever it takes to keep Utah from feeling confident.
Nothing has gone according to plan this entire series. The Rockets will get an early lead, play aggressive defense and win another close one by converting free throws and not shooting ill-advised three pointers early in the shot clock.
Also, if I see Rafer or Bobby Jackson go underneath the pick when Deron runs the pick and roll... I might just snap. Deron is on fire so far. Do not go under the pick and give the dude easy looks!!!!! Don't do it!!!
Go Rockets! Bring the series back to Houston knotted at 2!