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News » Rockets expect tougher fight from Blazers

Rockets expect tougher fight from Blazers

Rockets expect tougher fight from Blazers

The Houston Rockets expect a more aggressive, physical and intense Trail Blazers team to show up for tonight's Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.

"That was their first game in the playoffs," Houston guard Ron Artest said. "They just had to get used to playing in the playoffs. They will play better (tonight)."

Just about everything that could go right went right for the Rockets in Game 1. Yao Ming didn't miss a shot in nine attempts. Aaron Brooks looked like Nate "Tiny" Archibald instead of a second-year guard starting his first playoff game, and Artest consistently made shots he doesn't normally make.

Houston coach Rick Adelman talked Monday as if he thinks it's unlikely the Rockets will shoot 58.5 percent from the field in Game 2.

"Yao's not gonna go 9 for 9 every game," Adelman said. "And Aaron is not gonna make all those shots. If we don't shoot the ball as well as we did (Saturday) night, we've gotta have an answer for that."

The Rockets also might have to deal with a different strategy from Portland.

The Blazers didn't use a fronting defense against Yao, a strategy that some teams have had success with.

"That's been our Achilles' heel, when Yao gets fronted," Artest said. "We've really had a hard time getting the ball to Yao when he's fronted."

Yao said he was expecting to see Joel Przybilla or Greg Oden in front of him more often in Game 1.

"I was surprised. But not that surprised, because during the regular season, they didn't really front me," Yao said. "They played Przybilla behind me, trying to play me physical."

Yao added that the Rockets expect the Blazers to mix up their defenses, fronting him at different times.

"I (will be) surprised if they don't front me (tonight)," Yao said. "We need to move the ball well, switch the ball from side to side and attack from the other side."

The 7-foot-6, 310-pound Yao is not the most physical center in the league, but he stood his ground against Przybilla and Oden. A closer game could give him a bigger test.

"Usually, Yao gets worn down toward the end of the game," Blazers guard Brandon Roy said. "But he didn't have to play much (in the second half). We've got to hit him, go at his chest and beat him up a little."

The Rockets say they're ready for a stiffer challenge from the Blazers.

"We have a little bit more experience in the playoffs," Yao said. "That gave us a little advantage (in Game 1). Now I think the Blazers know the feeling about the playoffs. They have two days to prepare for that. The second game will be much tougher for us."

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 23, 2009


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