So, there goes that 82-0 record some of us predicted.
Since he played last night, Yao Ming will not play tonight in Oakland. The running and gunning isn't the best thing for him now, anyway. I expect Brad Miller to do just fine, and we can prepare ourselves for Jordan Hill to get some solid minutes off the bench. Lowry most like won't play, either.
I get the feeling that this team has to run two different offenses. One when Yao is on the court, and another when he sits. We can still run the floor when Yao is in the game, but when the game bogs down in the fourth quarter, we have to dump it down to the big fella. Speaking of Yao, I felt like he played about as well as expected. I hated watching him miss that early lay-up (THROW THE SLEDGEHAMMER, SON!), and he totally blocked that one shot (I stood up-that's how sick it was), and when he finally threw down that left handed dunk, it was great. His post game will come back, but for now he just needs to get back into the flow of the game.
So tonight is Offense B. It will look a lot like last year's team. We want to run whenever we can, but we are more able to run a set offense in the half-court set. The first team can settle down the game and run all those backdoor cuts through Brad Miller, and the second team can find ways to get Chase Budinger the ball.
In the LA game, I was proud that our guys fought back from being down 8 late in the game and ignoring the Staples Center crowd, which was rocking all night. Think about it: there won't be another atmosphere like that all year, and the Rockets controlled the game for most of the night. No other team will get the calls like the Lakers. And it's impossible for the Rockets to miss as many lay-ups as they did last night. I approximated the number at 8, 217 lay-ups missed. It's true. I went over the math twice.
The Warriors made one of the quietest coaching changes in the NBA this offseason. Seriously, if I asked you who the Golden State coach was, most of you would still say Nellie. I wouldn't blame you. Even fewer of you could tell me which school Keith Smart attended (brownie points for who can get it without looking-be honest).
Smart was interim coach in Cleveland in 2002 (pre-LeBron) and went 9-31. Let's go for 9-32 tonight.
Oh, and note to TNT's camera crew: if I have to see Justin Bieber or Khloe Kardashian one more time at Staples, I will find Ted Turner and we're going to have a long talk in dark room.
On a better note, the 2 million hits for TDS is amazing. You guys are great.
On to the matchups:
PG: Aaron Brooks vs. Stephen Curry:
Tom mentioned the tighter rotation from last night. Therefore, expect to see more Ish Smith tonight than last. The rook held his own mostly, but the offense looked lost at times when he was on the court.
AB did his thing, but got caught looking on the Steve Blake triple that decided the game. He'll play well. He always does against G-State.
A lot of people see Steph Curry having a breakout year. Others are positive there will be a sophomore slump. Whatever. As long as the offense stays the same, Curry will get his stats. He made the ROY award a two-man race late last season, but lost because he wasn't give the reins to the offense as early as Tyreke Evans.
Curry seems eminently likable. He played well for the national team at the FIBA Worlds, introducing himself to those that didn't get to watch him much last year.
If I had to choose one for the future, I think I would take Curry. But for tonight, I want Brooks.
SG: Kevin Martin vs. Monta Ellis:
Ellis averaged 26/5/4/2 last season, and I don't see why this year will be much different. He is what he is: a high volume shooter who takes about six free throws a game. He's not the most inefficient player in the league, but he isn't as bad as most would have you believe.
Kevin Martin was a beast last night, but then kind of disappeared in the second half. It's the problem with Martin at times. Someone must have let Speed Racer what was up during a late timeout, because he figured it out and played selfishly down the stretch, before AB and Scola told everyone to step aside.
In terms of pure stats, Ellis is the better player. In regards to overall basketball talent, it's Martin. I'll cop out and call it a draw.
SF: Shane Battier vs. Dorell Wright:
Wright is a career 6/4 guy won't kill you with his play. The Warriors also have Vladimir Radmanovic coming off the bench. I'm not sure who will play more, but neither will be particularly troublesome, assuming the Rockets don't let Vlad get hot from deep.
Did you see Shane Battier try to get a dunk on that shot before the half. I pretty sure I would have had to change my pants if he had made that. I didn't know Shane still had those ups. He played Kobe pretty well last night, and didn't make many mistakes.
Chase played really well, and it's encouraging to see. He really is a perfect fit for the Adelman offense.
Either Shane or Chase gets the nod over the Warriors SFs.
PF: Luis Scola vs. David Lee:
David Lee was a big pick up for the Warriors. He fits their style of play well, and always comes to play against the Rockets. Last year with the Knicks he almost single-handedly beat us. He's a good player, and he and Curry are going to be a dynamic duo for years to come. He doesn't, however, feel the need to play much defense.
Scola seemed out of it for much of the game last night. He got it together late, but if his game had arrived five minutes prior, the Rockets win that game. He was still his typical beastly self on the glass.
I'm calling this even, too.
C: Brad Miller vs. Andies Biedrins:
Though he couldn't grab a rebound to save his life for most of the game, but got to the line 8 (eight!) times and finished with 9/9. I loved the backdoor passes he made, and he just knows the offense. This makes the transition so much easier. Whereas Courtney Lee still has to figure out the offense, Miller literally walked in the door with more knowledge of out offense than any other player on the team outside of Kevin Martin, maybe. It's such an advantage, and it gives me hope for the games where he has to start when Yao sits during back-to-backs.
Biedrins is a good young player, but has been hampered by injuries and only played in 33 games last season. Yes, the Warriors are quietly making a run at most-injured team in the NBA. Please take it from us. Please.
Warriors: Charlie Bell, Reggie Williams, Vlad, Brandan Wright
Rockets: Courtney Lee, Chase Buddinger, Chuck Hayes, Jordan Hill, Ish Smith
Advantage: Rockets. I hope to be able to say that 80 more times this season.
Warriors: Curry probable (ankle), D. Wright probable (knee), Rodney Carney probable (knee), Ekpe Udoh out (wrist), Louis Amundson out (finger)
Rockets: Lowry day-to-day (back spasms), Yao out (back-to-back)
Prediction: Rockets bounce back, win by 7
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