Houston vs Utah: Game 7 Preview

by May 05, 2007

The Rockets and Jazz have asked me to plead for you all to pump your breaks just a bit, the first round isn’t over yet. I realize the Houston – Utah series lacks much of the intrigue and excitement that has been brought to you elsewhere this postseason but the fact remains that this series is a diamond in the rough, and a throwback of sorts.

Sure, excellent defense and execution is a less enticing then the gems that have been brought to us courtesy of Nelly-ball’s historic upset of Dallas, but there is something left in this 4 – 5 matchup, and it’s worth watching.

Everyone, and I mean everyone had Houston winning this thing in six games. Before putting the ink to it, I did my research on this series and thought Houston had a step on Utah and could pull it off in five. Hats off to Jerry Sloan and his squad, amazing effort thus far.

However, I am still sticking with my prediction and Houston will win tomorrow’s game 7. Still, all praises due to a young Utah club that was able to claw their way to a seventh and decisive game at the Toyota Center.

Beyond Okur bringing his range back for game six and AK-47 reloading his clip, I feel the constant thorn in the Rockets side is still the Booze Cruise. You can make an argument that Houston should adjust their defensive transitions to pickup Okur for trey, but time and time again in this series Boozer has abused Yao Ming, while the rest of the Jazz play the bar on the opposite side of the floor. I suspect Van Gundy has something cooking beyond hanging Yao out to dry for one on ones with Carlos for tomorrows matchup.

From a line-up perspective I suppose the edge goes to Utah heading into game 7. Rafer Alston can’t guard Deron Williams and a solid shooting night from the second year stud would be just what Dr. Sloan ordered to push Utah over the hump. At the same time AK’s emergence in game 6 on the offensive end spells trouble for McGrady who had been able to rest previously on defense while the hustle man produced very little. If Andrei gets off to a hot start Saturday night it will be interesting to see if Van Gundy stays with Mac, or calls for a switch.

The bottom line is Houston still has the two best players in this series and stars win playoff match-ups. I feel this is the year that McGrady and Yao pull a Warren-G and Nate Dogg and “regulate” on their opponent. With that said I  wouldn’t bet against Dr. Sloan. Is that a cop-out? Yes. But yet and still, game seven awaits, let’s get it.