Slow day today, but maybe we need one, because I believe tonight is the death of "Free League Pass". Personally, I'm gonna pony up and pay for it, so I will be watching crazy NBA action all season long, but for the folks who didn't, know that I feel your pain.
Check out the Games Thread
On to the game!
Houston at Dallas 7:00pm NBATV
Only one game tonight, but it is a very interesting one from a basketball standpoint. These two teams are supposedly two of the best teams in the Western Confernce, and by default, the league.
Dallas is 2-1 with convincing wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Sacramento Kings. In both wins, the thing that sticks out the most to me is that the scoring was pretty balanced, with 5 players reaching double figures and 3 20-point scorers in the win over Sacramento. This may be a new philosophy we're looking at in Dallas, maybe its not "Dirk and the Mavs" anymore but now "The Dallas Mavericks featuring Dirk Nowitzki" (note the subtle difference). As impressed as I was with the win over Cleveland, I was just as shocked with the inexusable loss to Atlanta Hawks. The key to the loss? Dirk scored 28 points, and there was only one other guy in the 20's (Devin Harris). Not a lot of help scoring from the rest of the Dallas team.
Houston has beaten one of the worst teams (Blazers), one of the best (the Jazz), as well as one I can't quite figure out (the LA Lakers). Houston beat the Utah Jazz last Thursday and while the game was entertaing, it doesn't bode well for Houston fans because it required Tracy McGrady scoring 47 points on 63% shooting as well as going 11-14 from the line. Yao Ming scored less than 10 points, and while Luis Scola and Chuck Hayes both played well, neither performed at the level you would expect from the starting power forward for a championship team. I feel like every time Tracy McGrady goes off for one of his 50 point heroic games, he gains another 5 DNP's later on in the season.
In this particular game, I pick Houston to win, mostly because I just feel like Dallas is only halfway there to becoming the team they're eventually going to be in March or April.
Player to watch: Jose Juan Barea- Does this kid have a nickname? Curse you, Damon Stoudamire, for taking the name "Mighty Mouse" oh so soon. The kid looks smaller than he actually is (listed at 6'0" but I put him closer to 5'9" and a half or 5'10") because he's always running; and while he's not super fast, he's super active, especially while he has the ball. Also watch him dribble, he keeps his entire body low when moving forward with the rock, kind of like a fullback. JJ scored 25 points against the Kings the other night, starting in place of injured Devin Harris. In the game before, Barea scored 14 point in 9 minutes. Avery Johnson may believe that Harris gives the Mavericks a better defensive scheme and better size, and thus a better chance to win, but Barea gives Dallas excitement and offensive firepower. He really gets the most out of the offense while he is on the floor, and if Avery Johnson lets him rot on the bench I'm going to start a letter writing campaign. Free Jose Juan Barea!
Thats it for tonight, short but sweet. Remember to check in on the games thread for any thoughts/comments on the HOU-DAL game, and after that, maybe take tonight to recharge your basketball batteries. Also treat yourself and check out "Chuck" on NBC at 8pm. Good show.
Editor's note: These game previews have been running all week for every game on the NBA schedule. Make sure you check them out in the NBA section.