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Game 7 Preview: Houston Rockets vs. Washington Wizards

Update: Lowry is active for tonight's game, but Ish will start, according to Jason Friedman.

The Wizards may have John Wall, but they are still a long ways off from being a force in the Eastern Conference. They're 1-4, so technically they are better statistically than the Rockets, but we know hope that is not the case. The Wiz are scoring 97 points per game but giving up 109 each night. I expect the Rockets to score a whole lot of points against Flip Saunders' ballclub.

It's nice to get off the schneid. Being 1-5 is certainly better than 0-6. At this point, it's baby steps for the Rockets. First, they must complete the climb back to .500. Then, they can focus on getting into the playoffs. It's a process, but one I'm glad the Rockets are undertaking it early in the season. Better to start the season 0-5 than to end it 0-5. But the Wizards have even bigger problems.

Flip Saunders walked out of practice on Monday to make a point. Bullets Forever did a great job covering it, and they've got some great stuff over there about. They run a great operation in DC. I am going to steal a couple of their quotes.

First, from Josh Howard:

We are getting ready to get a paycheck on the 15th. And right now I can honestly say y'all are getting a paycheck for nothing. And I can honestly say that. Cause I don't think guys are really buying into this. [Expletive], if anything we need to work for this paycheck. And work every month to get a paycheck. That's the approach I think our guys need to start taking into this.

Yeah, that's what I want to hear from my starting small forward who is currently injured. That guy is definitely in it for the long haul.

And this next one is a great point brought up by the famed Mike Prada:

Why was Hilton Armstrong the one to rally everyone? Nothing against Hilton, who at the very least is emerging as a sage voice on the team, regardless of his play on the court. But he's not a captain, a key player or (likely) a part of the future. Where were the captains? Isn't this one reason the team brought Kirk Hinrich in? Where was Gilbert Arenas, the longest-tenured player on the roster? I applaud Andray Blatche for speaking publicly on the matter, but why didn't he rally his teammates? If John Wall is a special leader, why didn't he speak up? There are reasonable answers for all of those questions, but at a certain point, a captain or veteran player needs to do their job. This speaks to a gap in leadership that makes you wonder going forward.

There's really nothing I can add to that. It just seems bad over there.

Let's just go to the matchups.


Point Guard

Ish Smith vs. John Wall

Rookie point guards are not created equal. Ish Smith played well against Bassy Telfair and Luke Ridnour, but John Wall will be a separate beast altogether.

Wall is averaging 19/10/3/3, which if he can keep it up for a whole season will be way more impressive than Tyreke Evans' 20/5/5. It's unlikely that he can keep that up, but until then we can just marvel at his ability and potential.

Say what you want about John Calipari, but he is one of my favorite college coaches. I know recruiting allegations have followed him around. Don't get me wrong. I don't condone incorrectly recruiting players. But simply as a coach, Calipari's dribble-drive motion offense is a thing of beauty, and he gets the most out of teams that lack chemistry due to all the one-and-dones he recruits.

Edge: Wizards

Shooting Guard

Kevin Martin vs. Kirk Hinrich

Hinrich is a point guard, sure, but he's been starting at shooting guard for the Wizards so far this season. According to Flip Saunders, Gilbert Arenas will eventually start here.

The Bulls dumped Hinrich in a salary dump in order to make a run at LeBron and Dwyane Wade. They failed. Then, they landed Carlos Boozer, so it was a double fail. Then Boozer got injured, so it's hilarious.

Kevin Martin didn't look injured against Minny. Granted, it was Minny. Still...

Edge: Rockets

Small Forward

Shane Battier vs. Al Thornton

Through five games, Thornton has reverted back to his Clippers form. Last year was a little tumultuous for him with the trade, but has gotten off to a good start this season. He's shooting 54% and averaging 15/6.

Battier is averaging 7/5/3. Just putting that out there. Hopefully, he can start stroking the three ball better until Chase gets it together.

Edge: Wizards

Power Forward

Luis Scola vs. Andray Blatche

Blatche is averaging 17/8, which sounds just fine. However, he's shooting under 41% and turning the ball over almost four times a game. That doesn't sound just fine.

Luis has been his typical badass self. 23/12/3 on 52% shooting? Umm, yes please! Luis got to the line 17 times against the T-Wolves. Against the Warriors he got there 12 times. In the other four games he didn't attempt more than 5 free throws.

Think about this: if Luis harnesses this ability to get to the line, the Rockets can run a lineup of Lowry, Martin, anyone at the three, Scola, and Yao. That group would get to the line 732 times per game. And anyone could play the three with those guys. Even Dave and Lee.

Edge: Rockets


Yao Ming vs. JaVale McGee

McGee was wildly inconsistent last year, but some hard work in the offseason and a great showing in Summer League have him starting again. He was coached in the offseason by his mother, Pam McGee, who played in the WNBA. Here's a link to a great story about their relationship. It's just interesting is all. How many players in the NBA can attribute much of their success to their mother's coaching?

McGee's mother cannot teach him how to stop height, though.

Edge: Rockets


Wizards: Gilbert Arenas, Nick Young, Cartier Martin, Yi Jianlian, Trevor Booker, and our good friend Hilton Armstrong

Rockets: No clue. Hopefully Jordan Hill. I hear good things about that guy. Mostly from Mike.

Edge: Rockets. I hope to say this 75 more times this season.


Wizards: Josh Howard out

Rockets: Aaron Brooks out, Kyle Lowry questionable

Prediction: Rockets have no reason to lose this game, so they go ahead and win it. What do you guys think?

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