Pump Up Music: Damone -- "Just What I Needed"
The Big Picture: My favorite analogy for the Houston Rockets is that they're a supercharged Old Man YMCA Team. Though the epitome of that aesthetic, Shane Battier, will miss this game, we're going to see lots of fundamentally sound screens, quick starts to the fast break, Kevin Martin's flick of the wrist that makes Shawn Marion's "jumper" look like Ray Allen's, Luis Scola's crazy scoop shots, and shocking athleticism from Chase Budinger, Trevor Ariza, Aaron Brooks, and Jordan Hill.
Since the Bobcats are in the playoffs, and only 2 games out of the 5 seed, it'll be interesting to see if Larry Brown reduces playing time for the crunch time core. Stephen Jackson has a hammy issue. Tyrus Thomas dislocated his thumb the other day. Gerald Wallace is always a step away from something breaking. Boris Diaw will probably play each of the remaining games, because he has a chance to start all 82, but other than that, it'd be tempting to sit guys for the sake of making sure they're healthy come Game 1.
Key to Victory: Martin and Jackson are a fascinating matchup, because they're both productive, but in opposite ways. Jackson is a tenacious defender and volume scorer, while Martin is one of the league's most efficient scorers and an acceptable defender. Both surprise opponents with occasional strong moves to the rim. And both have weird shooting motions that look like they take too long to work, but do just fine for their purposes.
Detail That May Interest .08% of You: Daryl Morey, Rockets GM, wrote this post about zoning laws in Houston.