Yao Ming Mania! All about Chinese basketball star and NBA All-Star Yao Ming » 2007 NBA playoffs

'2007 NBA playoffs' category archive

Sloan’s little known thought about the Rockets

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007
by John

I thought it was interesting what the Salt Lake newspaper wrote about what Utah coach Jerry Sloan said a few days ago, which was:

Coach Jerry Sloan has been saying that the Rockets are “built for a championship” with Yao Ming and McGrady, and recently added a touch of statistical evidence to support his claim.

“It’s always been interesting to me, over years of watching basketball, every team that wins a championship has a guard who gets five or six rebounds a game,” he said.

And you know who has that?

The Rockets, not the Jazz. McGrady averages 5.3 rebounds per game, while none of the Jazz guards averages more than the 3.3 that Williams pulls down.

However, Williams has grabbed 16 boards in the playoffs (now 28, 5.6 per game), compared with 14 (now 26, 5.2 per game) for McGrady”

I hope Jerry is right.

Video links from last night’s Rockets-Jazz Game 5

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007
by John

Here’s some video to feed your fever from last night’s Rockets win in Game 5:

Video highlight package
Jeff Van Gundy’s post-game conference
Juwan Howard’s post-game conference
Jerry Sloan’s post-game conference
Carlos Boozer’s post-game conference

Rockets redeem themselves with win — now up 3-2 in series

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007
by John
Yao drives to the basket for a jam against the Jazz in Game 5 at Toyota Center.  Despite hitting only 6-of-18 shots, Yao was 9-of-10 from the line to help the Rockets win Game 5 96-92 to take a 3-2 lead in their playoff series against the Jazz.Yao drives to the basket for a jam against the Jazz in Game 5 at Toyota Center. Despite hitting only 6-of-18 shots, Yao was 9-of-10 from the line and grab 15 boards to help the Rockets win Game Five 96-92 to take a 3-2 lead in their playoff series against the Jazz.” Click here for a page that has more photos from the game and pre-game preparations. Click here for photos from the Rockets’ practice earlier in the day.

You all probably saw the game Monday night where the Rockets held off the Jazz 96-92. Houston is now up 3-2 with Game 6 scheduled in Utah for Thursday night. Instead of going into too much detail, I’ll try to recap some of the highlights and emotions from the game.

On Monday night it was obvious Tracy McGrady was the key to the win. He was finally intent to take it to the basket more often, and it worked, scoring on several highlight reels that were incredible. Two of them were “layups” that were actually very difficult shots where he drove into traffic, then spun the ball off the glass with a lot of ‘english’ on it for the buckets. Then there was that long, stretched-out dunk over Andrei Kirilenko that got Toyota Center off their feet and was the McGrady of old.

He was 11-of-25 from the floor for 26 points, but just as important had 16 assists, with 10 coming in the first half.

At first Houston started off the first 14 minutes of the game shooting only 29%, while the Jazz had hit 55% of their shots. The Rockets were on the ropes. It looked like the Jazz were on their way to an easy win, taking a 10-point lead that looked like it could deflate the Rockets for the third straight game.

It looked like things were going to get worse when McGrady was in severe pain after getting a push from behind while playing defense. Grimacing, he went to the locker room, and it looked like it was something to akin to ‘back spasm city’ all over again.

At that moment, everyone in the building felt like the ballgame was over, that the Rockets would lose Game 5, and all kinds of repercussions in the off-season were on their way after Thursday night’s game in Salt lake.

Read the rest of this entry »

More thoughts after Saturday night’s decimation and before Monday night’s anticipation

Monday, April 30th, 2007
by John

I thought it was interesting that Yao seemed to call out his team (ahem, more specifically, maybe you know who…) when he made this statement on Sunday that many of us were also thinking during Game 4:

“Look at the play before (halftime). (Deron) Williams drives from halfcourt all the way to the paint with five seconds left. We still have time, and we just … shoot a running 3-point shot.

“That’s like, ‘How much do you want to play?’ “

There was only one player involved in that play. I don’t need to name that player, do I? But I’m glad Yao made the statement. Time for some toughness. I wonder how that will play out in the locker room, though?

Speaking of toughness, I wonder if Tracy McGrady watched the amazing game Sunday night that Baron Davis put on against the Mavericks? Baron is a baller. 33 points, 12-of-17 from the floor. 8 boards. 4 assists. 2 steals. Only 2 turnovers. Reminds me of Dwyane Wade last year during the Finals. The guy is dominant and gets to the rack almost any time he wants.

I hope McGrady watched that game, or any of the other 3 wins that Golden State has put on Dallas, and is getting inspired to have a Baron-like performance in Game 5, and NOT pull a Dirk instead. I really believe this is the most important game in McGrady’s career.

If McGrady is able to will his team to a victory in Game 5, and can be the guy who carries them to a series win over the Jazz, I might even go back to calling him T-Mac. In the meantime, I now only think superstars who take their team deep in the playoffs deserve to have their names abbreviated, or to have nicknames. Hell, Steve Nash, Dwayne Wade, and Kareem don’t even abbreviate their names or have nicknames.

Jazz jolt Rockets again to tie series 2-2

Sunday, April 29th, 2007
by John
Yao's face during the fourth quarter tells it all.  The Rockets were blown out again in the third quarter of Game 4 against Utah, so Yao and T-Mac were pulled out of the game in the fourth quarter as a precaution.  Houston ultimately lost 98-85, and head to Toyota Center for Game 5 on Monday night.  Will the Rockets be able to bounce back?Yao’s face during the fourth quarter tells it all. The Rockets were blown out again in the third quarter of Game 4 against Utah, so Yao and T-Mac were pulled out of the game in the fourth quarter as a precaution. Houston ultimately lost 98-85, and head to Toyota Center for Game 5 on Monday night. Will the Rockets be able to bounce back? Click here to see more photos from the game.

Boy, there are so many things to say after Saturday night’s disaster in Utah for the Rockets. Most of you on Saturday night probably have already seen (or read about) the 98-85 Game 4 debacle that has tied the Rockets-Jazz series up at 2-2, so I won’t go into the gory details. At the same time, I’ll try to refrain from ranting too much or I might say something I’ll regret later.

My emotions are all over the place. However, here are a few sound bites going on in my brain at the moment, from light optimism to severe pessimism, like…

“The series is not over.”

“Home court advantage still means something.”

“What a waste of jet fuel used to take the Rockets’ charter to Salt Lake.”

“Can I get those 2 1/2 hours of my life back?”

“No heart.”

“What a bad time for the Rockets’ respectable defense to disappear. Where’d it go in Game 4?”

“The lack of a bench is all on how JVG failed to cultivate his younger players.”

“What was it I heard from a few Rocket fans a year ago saying the Rockets don’t need a scoring point guard (e.g., Mike James) because T-Mac should be the scorer in the backcourt? Even a struggling James would be better than what we’ve had this year.”

“T-Mac didn’t step up. Maybe he’s overrated after all.”

“How could the Rockets take their foot off the Jazz jugular – a team that was in disarray and lost so many games at the end of the season — and let them back in this series?”

“If the Rockets lose this series, JVG will not be asked to return, and for good reason.”

“Is Larry Brown on Les Alexander’s speed dial yet?”

Juwan Howard (and several others) could be playing for his 2007-08 Rockets’ job Monday night, because if they lose Game 5 in Houston, the series is most likely over. No way they can win in Utah.”

“If they lose this series, T-Mac could be traded (especially because of his fragile back that can give out at anytime) and this team will be dismantled except for Yao.”

“I’m glad I didn’t buy put a deposit down for next year’s season tickets in order to get playoff tickets this year.”

I can take two losses in a row in Utah, but the way the Rockets lost Saturday night in such an important game is inexcusable. There just seemed to be no effort in the pivotal third quarter where they were outscored 33-17, and 64-41 in the second and third together. They blinked in the face of pressure.

My earlier fear I wrote about a couple days ago of Juwan not hitting his jump shot is becoming an absolute nightmare. Take out the garbage baskets he had in the fourth quarter, and he was 0-for-5…again. Unlike two seasons ago, it looked like he may have peaked too early this season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Video from Game 3

Friday, April 27th, 2007
by John

Here are a few links to video from last night’s game:

* Video Highlights of Game 3
* Video of Van Gundy’s press conference
* Video of T-Mac’s press conference
* Video of Carlos Boozer’s press conference

Rockets lose Game 3, but all is not lost

Friday, April 27th, 2007
by John
Yao shoots over Mehmet Okur, who tried to flop to draw a foul, Thursday night in Utah.  Yao scored 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, but the Rockets and their bench shot terribly to lose Game 3 in their playoff series with the Jazz.  The Rockets still lead the series 2-1.Yao shoots over Mehmet Okur, who tried to flop to draw a foul, Thursday night in Utah. Yao scored 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, but the Rockets and their bench shot terribly to lose Game 3 in their playoff series with the Jazz. The Rockets still lead the series 2-1. Click here and here for more photos from the game.

Well, I wrote before Game 3 (see blog post directly below) that Rocket fans shouldn’t panic if Houston loses it. Although they were pathetic in so many areas Thursday night and lost 81-67, I still feel it’s no time to say the Rockets are doomed.

It’s no surprise for the Rockets to put up a stinker every once in awhile, even during the all-important playoffs. But the thing about this team you have to give them credit for is bouncing back after disappointing losses this sesaon. And that’s what I think they can still do in Game 4.

There is no need to panic that:

* The Rockets shot 32.8% and scored the lowest number of points in a playoff game in franchise history. After all, the Jazz shot 38.8%. There was a reason why this game was televised on NBA TV, a channel that many people don’t have compared to ABC, ESPN and TNT. Bad shooting doesn’t get good ratings.

* Only four Rocket players scored, the first time that has happened in a playoff game in 52 years, according to TNT.

* The Utah bench outscored the Rockets’ bench 33-0. Near the end of the game, I was kind of hoping a Rocket bench player would NOT score a bucket during garbage time. The damage had already been done by them not contributing anything, so I wanted them to end up with a big zero because I knew the bench would get more questions from the press over the next couple of days before Game 4 by being shut out, and I wanted them as angry, fired up, and wanting something to prove in Game 4 as much as possible. And I have no problem how T-Mac said after the game the bench has to “step up.” Now is not the time for the team leader to be “Mr. Nice Guy.”

* The Jazz went on a 15-4 run in the fourth quarter to open a 17-point lead. The Rockets defense fell apart. That’s rare. The best defensive team in the league will address that situation in Game 4.

* Luther Head was 0-for-5 in Game 3 and is now 2-for-16 in the series (1-of-12 from three-point land). I really believe he is going to start hitting some clutch shots because he did it so often in the fourth quarter during the regular season. They don’t call him Cool Hand Luke for nothing. In some way, he reminds me of Kenny Smith during the 1994 playoffs (championship season) when Kenny’s 3-point shot abandoned him during the playoffs big-time, but he finally got it together when the pressure was on. That’s where Luther is.

* The Rockets turned the ball over 19 times, with Rafer Alston making at least 3 dumbheaded passes into the post for TOs (5 turnovers overall).

* Yao turned it over 8 times and was terrible at the start of the game. It all started when didn’t block out Carlos Boozer for a rebound, who laid it in for a score. Yao was so out of position trying to contest the shot of a Utah guard (Deron Williams I think) on the perimter, T-Mac slapped his back after the play to let him know he shouldn’t take himself that far away from the basket, and should have been in better position.

Let me tell you how bad it was for Yao in that awful first quarter, and part of the second….

Read the rest of this entry »

The bright side if the Rockets lose Game 3

Thursday, April 26th, 2007
by John

The Rockets are on somewhat of a roll going up 2-0 in the Jazz series, and all Rocket and Yao fans are feeling pretty good with tip-off for Game 3 in about 3 hours.

However, the chances of the Rockets pulling out a ‘W’ in Game 3 is fairly low. Utah fans are going to be fired up, and I predict Mehmet Okur will finally have a big game.

We also know the Rockets, and most Houston teams, can’t stand prosperity. Just when you think they are going to cruise, they lose a big game or go on a losing streak, with the Astros’ 5-game skid the latest example.

So don’t be surprised if the Rockets lose Game 3. The bright side of losing is the following:

* more focus for Game 4
* another game at Toyota Center will be played Monday night
* last but not least, if the Rockets were to sweep the Jazz on Saturday (4/28) in four games, they may not play again for over a week!

About that last point…I believe the Dallas-Golden State series is going to go at least 6 games, maybe 7. Game 6 of that series isn’t until Thursday, May 3rd, and Game 7 is Saturday, May 5th. Then tack on 2-3 days for the next series to start, and we could be talking May 7th or 8th, a total 9 or 10 days before Houston would play again!

That is just way too much time for Houston to get rusty. Although it’s always nice to have some extra rest, I think 3-4 days rest is ideal for this team. Heck, even with 3 days rest during the regular season, I believe the Rockets’ record was pretty lousy. They need to keep playing to keep the momentum going. It was like that during the 1994 and ’95 championship season when most of those series went 6 or 7 games.

So I’m not advocating the Rockets should lose Game 3 or 4, but there is a bright side to losing if Houston can take care of business the remaining games of the series.

Cool Rox-Jazz intro video

Thursday, April 26th, 2007
by John

I was scouring YouTube for some good Rockets videos, and found someone uploaded the pre-game introductions for Game 1. I had mentioned in my post after attending Game 1 that the intro was pretty cool and awe-inspiring, and the crowd loved it.

I have been to many Rocket games in my lifetime, and this pre-game intro had to be one of the best.

Post-practice video interviews of Rockets

Thursday, April 26th, 2007
by John

Here’s a link to some video interviews that T-Mac, Yao, Shane and Van Gundy gave after Wednesday’s practice before heading to Utah for Game 3.