Last Week's Food Chain.
'Gotta break ranks with Tone Deaf this time. He said in a 7 game series, teams will exploit the weaknesses of the Rockets. I say, as the season goes on, the Rockets will improve just as they already have. By the time the playoffs come around, Van Gundy will have fleshed out all his players' roles and they will go deep. I think the key here is no one player trying to do too much, and T-Mac is always in jeopardy of doing that. Still, the Rockets have all the makings of a real team, the kind that can win it all as long as they don't beat themselves. Here's the assignments:
T-Mac - Score and play tight D on the smaller 2 guards
David Wesley - Run the break and keep the defense honest by hitting the 3's
Apocalypse Yao - control the middle and Please play defense
J-Ho - garbage game! (rebound, play D, and finish the easy ones!)
Sura - do exactly what you've been doing, hustle, hustle for the ball.
'Spoon, Jon Barry, Padgett, and the Cookie Monster can all give quality minutes, and Van Gundy cetrainly knows how to substitute. (Rod Strickland can tell game-day war-stories from two decades ago.)
I love T.K., but he annointed the Mavs the X-Factor of the playoffs. I say, sure, but more probably that's next year for them. This year, the dark horse wears red.
It's still hard to pick against the Spurs, but if we believe T.K., and there's no reason not to, teams will look to exploit their foe's weaknesses. Since I believe a good team needs to excel in all facets of the game, who's shooting the 3's for the Spurs? Ginobili is 32nd in 3-point %, and 33rd in 3-pointers made. Teams like Phoenix, Miami, Philly, Seattle, Dallas, Houston, and Detroit all have 3-point specialists, of sort. Everything else being equal (which, I know they're not), doesn't that give those teams an advantage?
Thanks to StatBoy for pointing out Tone's err at the end of the show: "The Mavericks? The Mavericks are your sleeper this year?!"