Ranking the triangle: is Dallas, Houston, or San Antonio Texas’ best team?
NBA coaches always have the Texas Triangle road trip circled on their schedule. The circle is probably in black ink, which my man Sigmund Freud would psychoanalyze as subconsciously symbolizing death.
After all, three games against Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio usually means three defeats. Best-case scenario: one win, two losses. Anything better is rare.
It’s unanimous that Dirk Nowitzki, Tracy McGrady, and Tim Duncan back-to-back-to-back is rough. However, it’s far from unanimous when deciding which is the roughest.
Here is the question: right now, who is Texas’ best team? Do the Mavericks, Rockets, or Spurs own the land of Dubya?
Below is my call on this question. They aren’t based on personal feelings, so drop your own hometown bias and pom-pom set before dropping an opinion in the comment box below.
# 1) San Antonio: It would be easy to assume the Spurs have fallen off. They lost in the Western Conference Finals last year. The Big Three is getting older, while the bench has had more turnover than the mortgage department of an American bank.
However, I know one thing about next year’s Spurs: they’ll play great defence. And getting stops will keep Gregg Popovich’s crew in every game –whether at home or on the road.
This is important. After all, we’ve been reminded with Boston’s success and Phoenix’s relative decline that defence, not run-and-gun systems, wins.
And the Big Three is nothing to yawn at. Not by a long shot. Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili are still a top trio. They’re talented, experienced, and unselfish. And counting them out would be a mistake.
Of course, the bench can produce. There are still the usual suspects: Matt Bonner, Jacque Vaughn, and Ime Udoka. Deadline pick-up Kurt Thomas was re-signed, while Washington’s Roger Mason was brought-in to provide scoring. Most importantly, the Spurs have leftover cap space and are looking at adding another veteran, possibly bringing back Michael Finley.
#2) Houston: The Rockets 07-08 season was interesting. Expectations were high and the team got out the blocks faster than Ben Johnson at the 1988 Seoul Olympics (sorry another Canada reference). The only issue was Steve Francis’ minutes.
Suddenly, the team struggled, which sparked rumours of the club picking between co-superstars and trading either Yao or T-Mac. Before a decision could be made McGrady got hurt.
He returned and then Yao got hurt for the season. Somehow, without their 7-6 post, they turned a nice winning streak into 22 straight victories before losing in the first round of the playoffs.
On paper, things look promising for Houston. Other basketball scribes share this belief. For example, Eric Sneed of probasketballnews believes H-Town will take soon take the league by storm.
Here’s why: Shane Battier, Luis Scola, and Rafer Alston combine with Yao and McGrady to form an excellent starting five. The bench was loaded with talent, but got even better by adding the experienced Brent Barry.
If the Rockets can stay healthy and catch some luck, they could easily push deep in the playoffs. Those are big ifs in Houston.
#3) Dallas: Two consecutive first round losses equal changes, especially when the owner is Mark Cuban. The outspoken billionaire fired Coach Avery Johnson and brought in former Indiana and Detroit sideline boss Rick Carlisle.
But the Mavericks are still strong. Dirk Nowitzki looked brilliant at the Olympic qualifying backdoor tournament, while Jason Kidd should be better with a full season out west.
Questions remain about everyone else, though. Josh Howard is in the doghouse after admitting his affinity for Canibus (and he wasn’t referencing the rapper). Jerry Stackhouse is a year older and Jason ‘Jet’ Terry had a somewhat rough flight last year.
Further changes are coming. There are reports of a Ron Artest trade. And who knows what Cuban does with his NBA team if he actually buys the Chicago Cubs.
Who do you think is Texas’ best team? San Antonio? Houston? Dallas? Get at us in the comment box below with your thoughts and return to HoopsVibe The Blog for more NBA Tidbits. Photo courtesy of Strange Botwin.