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Game 1 Road Victories Huge Ė Who has the Edge? Orlando or Houston?

May 5, 2009 by AlexV · Leave a Comment 

Although the two would not face each other lest it be in the NBA Finals, both men's teams, Dwight Howard left, and Yao Ming right, face the unsettling task of taking down two of three teams with the best records in the NBA.

Although the two would not face each other lest it be in the NBA Finals, both men's teams, Dwight Howard left, and Yao Ming right, face the unsettling task of taking down two of the three teams with the best records in the NBA.

Last night presented us with a pair of game ones on TNT that just about went down to the wire, but most importantly, had the road teams winning. The first game featured the three seeded Magic and two seeded Celtics in Boston with Orlando getting the W. The second game was the five seeded Houston Rockets at the one seeded Lakers in Los Angeles. with the road team pulling out a crucially upsetting victory. This is a great position for any team to be in, and especially a considerable underdog like the Houston Rockets. With that being said, who has the greatest advantage?

One advantage both teams earned with their victories is home court. Aside from that there are other mental factors that can provide advantages as well as some disadvantages.

The Orlando Magic looked solid and efficient as they worked their way building a huge lead which at one point was as high as 28 points midway through the third quarter. Their big four scorers of Dwight Howard, Raefer Alston, Hedo Turkoglu, and Rashard Lewis all posted 10+ points and they also received a boost from Mickael Pietrus who stepped it up adding 10+ points of his own. All in all it definitely looked like the fatigue from Bostonís seven game, multiple overtime series with Chicago was beginning to show.

That was until they began a spurt which saw them outscore the Magic 54-41 in the second half, and even close the gap to four points when there were less than two minutes left in the game. Now itís one thing to win on the road and pull off a game one victory. But when you cannot keep the clamps down after building a 28 point lead in the third quarter against a team who is supposed to be tired and is playing without Kevin Garnett and Leon Powe, that should do more good for they psyche of the Celtics than it does for the Magic.

As for the Rockets, they managed to stay within their game the entire contest versus the Lakers. Even when L.A. converted a nine point deficit in the second half into a one point lead, Houston never waivered and stuck with their game plan a got back to holding onto comfortable leads of five to nine points. Much of that had to do with the careful and mistake-free ball handling of point guard Aaron Brooks.

On top of that, they received en emotional lift when Yao Ming was hurt after Kobe Bryantís right knee banged into his own right knee. Yao was favoring the knee very heavily and he even walked off the court before pleading with his team trainer that he was fine and able to go back. All he did in his return was hit a big jumper and sink six free throws to keep LA at bay in the waning moments of the game. Now if that isnít good for a fifth seeded teamís confidence faced with task of taking down the daunting L.A. Lakers then I donít know what is.

Because of the Rockets consistent game play in their victory coupled by the determination of Yao Ming, I would give them the edge on the advantage end over Orlando. As for the Magic, it is great that they won on the road, but they were basically hanging by a thread as the game was expiring, and perhaps they have yet to face a fully alert and enthused Celtics team.

Houston Rockets Itchiní for Second Place!!!

March 18, 2009 by AlexV · Leave a Comment 

There may be plenty to cheer about come playoff time this season in Houston.

There may be plenty to 'cheer' about come playoff time this season in Houston.

The Houston Rockets have shown considerable improvement since they lost Tracy McGrady for the rest of the season earlier this year due to injury. They have found stability and solid defense and also a decent ability to win on the road where they are 17-17. Last week they even suffered a stretch without Yao Ming when they beat New Orleans in Louisiana, and they have even removed any doubt, thus far, that trading away Rafer Alston would be a problem. They are rolling over a lot of bumps on the road and are still pressing on, and a two seed in the Western Conference playoffs might not be too far out of reach.

As of right now the Rockets are 44-25, 3rd in the west, and two games behind San Antonio, 2nd in the west, and 45-22. So with roughly twelve games to go, they are definitely on the Spursí heels. Whatís even more is they have a chance to get in the drivers seat by the end of this week!

Tonight they meet the struggling Detroit Pistons who have lost two straight and are 1-3 in their last four, and the Rockets get to face them in Houston where they are 27-8. Then this Friday, 3/20/09, the Rockets host the bottom-feeding Minnesota Timberwolves who are 20-47 which is good for 6th worst in the league. As for San Antonio, they donít play until Friday as well, but they face the Boston Celtics. Although the Celtics have been struggling to keep up with Cleveland due to their injuries, it would not be an upset to see them win even in San Antonio.

The real kicker is what culminates if the Rockets were two win their two games and the Spurs lost their game this Friday. The two would then play each other in San Antonio for control of the 2nd seed. If the Rockets win then they would grab hold of the Spursí spot with ten games or so to go in the season.

The west is close from two to eight, and anything can happen. But I would doubt there were too many people who thought the Houston Rockets could be a two seed.

NBA Quarter-Mark Outlook

November 30, 2008 by AlexV · Leave a Comment 

nba logo in the middle NBA Quarter Mark Outlook

So far in the NBA a few teams are back up to their old tricks, a few have been somewhat disappointing, and a†good number†of upstarts from last year as well as some surprising newcomers have begun to surface.

The newcomers that need to be involved in this discussion are as follows; in the east itís Miami, New York, and New Jersey and in the west all of the other teams with playoff aspirations are of no surprise at this point in the season. Miami, led by top scorer in points per game, Dwyane Wade, are currently 9th in the eastern conference standings. Last year, everyone remembers how atrocious they were. New York seems to be hitting its stride under the tutelage of former Phoenix head coach, Mike DíAntoni as they are 8-8 and 8th in the standings. Finally, the previous seasonís trade between the Dallas Mavericks and New Jersey Nets has finally begun to payoff, as the Devin Harris led Nets are 8-7, 6-4 in their last ten, and 7th in the east.

The Upstarts from last year that are proving their worth are as follows; in the east itís the Orlando Magic, the Atlanta Hawks, while in the west we have Portland and Denver. The Magic currently sit at 3rd and atop the eastern conference standings at 13-4 going 9-1 in their last ten. Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, and Hedo Turkoglu and company are really hitting their stride. The continued and improved production of guard/forward Keith Bogans and the extra lift provided by off season veteran pick up Anthony Johnson as point guard have been stalwart.

The Hawks slid a bit after starting off 5-0 mainly because of losing Josh Smith for the next few months, but have regained form and are now 10-6 and 5th in the eastern conference.

In the west the Portland Trailblazers, continue to look like a team of the future with stars Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, and the potential of first-year NBA players like Rudy Fernandez, and Greg Oden. They are now tied with Phoenix, Denver, and Houston at 11-6 while going 7-3 in their last ten games.

Denverís success can be attributed to the trade of Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson. The Nuggets are 11-6 and 7-3 in their last ten while holding 3rd place in the west. They have had many impressive victories and performances as they beat Boston in Boston, and took the Lakers to the brink of a loss in L.A.

Now come the disappointments. The Detroit Pistons are hovering somewhere between average and above average. Although they are 10-5 and in 4th place in the east, they are suffering some inexcusable losses, most recently a 10+ point loss to Minnesota, do not yet seem to have their act together with Allen Iverson skipping the thanksgiving day practice (however, I do give huge props to Michael Curry for taking charge by suspending him for one game), and are not nearly as consistent as they were when they had Chauncey Billups in the lineup.

The other eastern disappointments for the eastern conference are the Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers, and Washington Wizards.

The Raptors just 8-7 and are barely holding a spot in the eastern conference as the 7th seeded team. With capable point guard Jose Calderon, and former all-start Jermaine OíNeal, they should be doing better.

The Sixers were a team last year that without Elton Brand finished 6th in the east and took Detroit to six games in the playoffs. Now with virtually the same team and Elton Brand, they are struggling to find their rhythm and are 7-9 and 5-5 in their last ten. As for the ďWiz Kids,Ē although without injured star Gilbert Arenas they may not have been a playoff contender anyway, they are still abysmal with their 2-12 record which is good for worst in the east. Last season they played without Arenas for the most part, but still managed to finish above .500 and make the playoffs. They have now fired their coach Eddie Jordan and are in a state of disarray.

The disappointments in the west are the New Orleans Hornets, Dallas Mavericks, and L.A. Clippers. The Hornets finished second last year and were one game away from the western conference finals. They are now 9-6 and 7th in the standings in the west. The Mavericks are 8-8 and look like they are ready to get their act together one game, and then go back to mediocrity the next. As for the Clippers, you would think they could be more competitive than their 3-13 record would suggest with the pickup of marquee point guard Baron Davis. Oh well.

As for the Spurs, Iím sure a lot of people would like to put them in as a disappointment, but they have been playing without Manu Ginobli for the entire season (who is set to return soon), and Tony Parker has just returned from his injury earlier in the season. To further their defense, they are now 9-7 and 7-3 in their last ten while being 8th in the west.

Finally we come to the top dogs in the league.

In the east you have the Cleveland Cavaliers with their 14-3 records, 9-1 in the last ten games, and 2nd place spot in the standings. They have put together a bevy of blowouts on their opponents this season, and the addition of a scoring point guard in Mo Williams has been absolutely huge for them.

The second team that has picked up right where they left off from last year is the Lakers. They are 13-1 and making mince meat out of would be superpower teams and have the best record in the NBA.

But the†pinnacle of all teams continues to be the Boston Celtics. Theyíre 16-2 and are still dominating defensively and continue to get great production from their supporting cast members. And although the Lakers get much help from their bench and up and coming players, letís face it… the Celtics are still the champs.

The last three teams I must mention are the Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns, and Utah Jazz. To me, these three teams are in a state of limbo. Houston would look to be an upstart, but they canít seem to keep their stars, Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, healthy. The Suns seem like the same team as last year, which wasnít a contender anyway, and the Jazz keep being a team with potential that canít seem to build on it.

That would about sum up the NBA season at or around its quarter mark. Weíll look to see who shifts from wherever they were in this discussion and who remains where they are in the coming weeks. As for those that I did not include in this articleÖ you really just arenít worth mentioning (Chicago, Indiana, Milwaukee, Charlotte, Golden State, Minnesota, Sacramento, Memphis and Oklahoma City).