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Game 79 Preview: Bobcats at Rockets

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Ah, what a crazy season. The Rockets have split with some really good teams this season (Spurs, Mavs, Jazz), but something that's stood out to me is that the Rockets are 13-16 against the Eastern Conference.

There's been a lot of talk about how the Rockets would do if they were in the East, but they really haven't played well against the "inferior" conference, especially on the road. It's tough to win on the road anywhere, but those are wins that good teams get, and the Rockets will have to be able to take half of those Eastern road games next season.

I'm so proud of these Rockets. I think we all are. Yes, they're going to finish right around where most people thought they were, but they should be at least .500 when the season ends (hopefully better). Bad teams would have tanked those games, but outside of the Pacers game, it seems like the Rockets have competed hard in every game since it became apparent that the Spurs and Blazers wouldn't be falling out of the top 8 in the West.

The Bobcats beat the Rockets last time. They're 42-36 and headed to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Michael Jordan is so excited he might watch one of their playoff games on television. Note: that's not my joke, but I liked it. The 'Cats are two games out of fifth place, but it might be too late for them to catch Miami and Milwaukee.

Matchups ahead,

Star-divide

Matchups:

PG: Aaron Brooks vs. Raymond Felton:  

I really don't like Raymond Felton. I'm not sure why exactly, but when the Mavs were constantly in trade rumors about him, I got excited and hoped they'd make a stupid move and trade for him. He averages 12/4/6, so it's not like he's an awful player or anything. He's shooting the basketball much better than last year. Why do I dislike this guy?

"Mighty Mouse" continues to impress. Resalliance_00 pointed out that AB has been playing really well when faced with elite point guards. After Felton, he's got Steve Nash (fighting for second seed), Tyreke Evans (awesome rookie), and Chris Paul (best point guard in the game). So, tonight is his "break". He will have his hands full.

Advantage: Rockets

SG: Kevin Martin vs. Stephen Jackson:

Stephen Jackson made the Rockets look awful last time. To recap, he went 15-22 (68%) for 43 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. He got to the line 11 times, and was the singular reason the Rockets lost in Charlotte despite being the better team. Inside, outside, and in between, Jackson embarrassed the Rockets thoroughly. Statistically, he plays good ball against us. Hopefully Trevor can slow him down.

I'm still so disgusted by that FanHouse article about the Rockets and its description of Kevin Martin that I'm too pissed to say anything. Suffice it to say, Kevin Martin is good, and not selfish. At. All.

Advantage: Even

SF: Trevor Ariza vs. Gerald Wallace: 

Wallace is really versatile. He averages 18/10/2, but is the opposite of Stephen Jackson. He averages 4 points fewer and 5.5% worse against the Rockets than his career average. It's when you look at stats like that when you fully comprehend Shane Battier's ability as a shut down defender. All year, I've looked at how players do against the Rockets, and almost every time a team has a good wing player, their averages against the Rockets pale against other teams. There are exceptions, like Stephen Jackson, who might be tad too quick or long for Shane to defend well. But at the end of the day, my appreciation for Shane, which was already great, has increased from writing these previews and seeing these stats. Shane is "No Stats All-Star", but here are definitive stats that prove his worth as a defensive force. 

Trevor is great, too, and really coming into his own. I think he'll be chasing Jackson around more than Wallace.

Advantage: Bobcats

PF: Luis Scola vs. Boris Diaw:

I wanted to just say Argentina>France, and just leave it at that, but I will elaborate a little.

Diaw can play all three frontcourt positions, making him as versatile as Wallace. His production has slipped considerably this season, and I'm still laughing at the fool in my fantasy league who drafted him. Oh wait, that was me.

Scola is the ______________ (insert awesome nickname here that perfectly captures Scola's awesome array of post moves, basketball IQ, and rebounding ability). The Argentine of Naphthalene? Unclean Argentine? The Argentine of Creatine? The Argentine with a Trampoline? Come up with something better. I dare you.

Advantage: Rockets

C: Chuck Hayes vs. Tyson Chandler:

Why are all centers so damn tall? It's not fair! How is Chuck supposed to get a single rebound? Seriously, I bet he'd never get into double digits on the boards and that a great team like Jazzholes could keep that number below 5, right?

Chandler should be in Oklahoma City on the Team That's Too Young to Be This Good, but he's in Charlotte averaging fewer points, rebounds, blocks, assists and alley-oops this season.

Advantage: Rockets

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Bench:

Bobcats: D.J. Augustin, Tyrus Thomas, Tyson Chandler, Larry Hughes, Stephen Graham, Nazr Mohammed

Rockets: You know who...

Advantage: Rockets

Injuries:

Bobcats: Tyrus Thomas (dislocated thumb)-no clue if he's ready to come back

Rockets: You know...

Prediction: Let down game, but Rockets win by 5

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