The Grizzlies are taking on the Houston Rockets tonight, and as far as we here at 3 Shades of Blue are concerned, that means there is only one blog to talk to: The Dream Shake. Settle in as we ask them some questions about their team and then head over to their great site to see what they asked us.
3SoB: The Rockets seem to get up for the top teams, but slack off against the lower tier. What is your explanation for this?
The Dream Shake: I really wish I knew. Its been bugging all of us for the entire season. The default explanation is that we arent as motivated and thus play down to our competition. I think its more a matter of our inability to win on the road than our inability to beat bad teams. Weve had two poor HOME games against teams I deem lower tier (I take Indiana off the list because I love Danny Granger, and that team can get hot at any moment), those being against Washington and Milwaukee. That was also during the epic T-Mac Drama Period. Now that we finally have some permanence to our rotation, weve been able to beat the bad teams at home. The road is a different story, but our win in Minnesota and our performance through three quarters in Chicago shows that, at the very least, we are improving in that area.
3SoB: Houston basically traded their starting point guard for a backup point guard in the Rafer Alston to Orlando, Kyle Lowry to Houston deal. Was this move good, bad or otherwise in your opinion?
TDS: I thought this was a great move from the beginning. It allowed us to get rid of a guy who the majority of us disliked very much because of his bad shot selection and poor shooting, among many other things. Lowry was a step forward for a few reasons. For one, we essentially swapped an expensive, over-the-hill point guard who wasnt very good for a young, cheap, up-and-coming point guard. If you think about it for a second, that is one HELL of a deal. Secondly, Lowrys addition means less shots from the PG position (were still trying to work on Brooks shot selection, but at least its not as bad as Rafers). This in turn means more shots for Yao, Ron Artest, Battier, etc guys who shoot a decent percentage from the field and from three, which Rafer did not do. Lowry also gives us a lot more speed at the PG position and is someone that Morey has had big plans for for a long time. I always trust Boy Genius judgment. But yes, I think its a great move even in the short term.
3SoB: Reversing the same question that you asked me: How happy/sad are you that the Rockets traded away Rudy Gay for Shane Battier?
TDS: I was sad when we didnt grab someone to add to T-Mac/Yao when we had the chance, but as I have grown to know Battier as a player and how he can affect the game, its safe to say that it was a great deal for us. The Michael Lewis article on Battier really opened up his abilities to the national public, but Houstonians had long known his impact on the game, even if it wasnt in the box score. His intelligence and ability to guard opposing wing players, as well as his excellent three point shooting, have been major assets to our team over the last few years. I cant imagine what this team would be like if we had kept Gay (who I think is a great talent), but its safe for me to say that we would not be as successful.
3SoB: Darryl Morey: Genius Stat Geek or Mystical Witch Doctor?
TDS: Daryl Morey: Boy Genius Stat Geek. He looks like hes twelve. A witch doctor, Im sure, would look more terrifying and would be much older. Geek applies to Morey well. If he was a mystical witch doctor, we would have been out of the first round by now. Statistics can only put a team in the right position to win they dont win the games. Thats what Morey has done brilliantly, snagging guys like Scola, Artest, and Lowry. Hes put together a great team in the cheapest way possible. It just has to work when it matters most, the playoffs, and so far, it hasnt. Then again, we havent had the opportunity to see Ron go Crazy Pills on playoff competition yet. I cant wait.
3SoB: Tracy McGrady is injured once again, but the Rockets seem to be playing better than ever without him, hardly missing a beat in fact. Could this be the year that the Yao Ming Era finally makes it beyond the first round of the playoffs? How far do you see them going in the playoffs?
TDS: It really depends on who we play. Generally speaking, this team is better with a healthy McGrady, and better without an injured McGrady. My hopes are that this team gets a high seed (3-4) and then can finally win a playoff series from there. What I dont want to do is play Utah again in the first round. I wouldnt mind running train on them in later rounds, but Im sick of playing them in round one. Phoenix, Dallas, New Orleans, Portland, or even Denver would be better matchups for us. Weve beaten Denver twice in the regular season, and the other teams match up well against us. And I just hate Dallas. But I definitely think we can get out of the first round, as long as we A) Have home court in the first round, and B) Are not playing Utah. Dave will call me crazy for giving the Jazz any credit, but I think theyre kind of dangerous, and they arent a good matchup for us at all. We could probably make a good series against them if we had home-court, but still, I want to see some variety for once.
A big thanks to The Dream Shake for putting up with us, given thatour team hasbeen a thorn in their side so far this season.