Throughout Game 1, two ideas echoed in my head. The first was TrueHoop Stat Geek Stephen Ilardi, in predicting a Utah sweep (bold call!), saying that Rafer Alston's absence would be devastating in the first two games, and then Houston would have to win in impossible Utah. It seemed really wild when he said it, but it seemed less wild as the game unfolded. The second idea comes from Rockets GM Daryl Morey. Before the series, when Morey talked about the Rockets' chances, he made a big deal about home court advantage. Now the Rockets are behind in the series, and the home court advantage is gone. OK, now I'll stop trying to judge the series based on one game.
Jason Friedman of the Houston Press: "Does he have it in him at this stage of his career, with his left shoulder aching and legs which have clearly lost a step? When you see McGrady go scoreless during a fourth quarter which saw him defended by none other than Kyle Korver, you have to wonder. Of course, his critics will say he never had it in him in the first place. But this conversation is not about the past; it's about the future. And for the Rockets to have one, T-Mac must show them the way."
Brad Rock of the Deseret News: "It was a relaxed, confident, devil-may-care Jazz team that worked out briefly Sunday morning at the Toyota Center. OK, that's an exaggeration. Confident, yes. Relaxed, maybe. But complacent? Not on Jerry Sloan's watch. As the longtime Jazz coach would tell you, this is no situation to be jack-potting around. Having defeated Houston in Game 1 of this best-of-seven playoff series on Saturday night, the Jazz have already moved into their Game 2 mode, which is to say their memories are blank. Win? What win? Holding Tracy McGrady to 20 points, getting a great night from the bench and outworking the Rockets should, in Sloan's mind, officially be dust in the wind by now. That's how he likes it."
Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Pouring more gas on the burning blaze of irony, Kirilenko, on Sunday, sat in the same courtside seat where he blew apart last year. This time, he was much less emotional. He seemed satisfied, but still not completely happy. Kirilenko talked about the 'good matchups' in the series and the 'team's confidence.' When questions came his way about the personal transformation he's undergone, Kirilenko was cryptic. 'I'm definitely more comfortable,' he said. 'I can't measure it. ... It's a different feeling.' Was his relationship with Sloan different? 'Definitely.' Could he elaborate? 'It's already been said enough.' Was there a time when basketball was no longer fun? 'Definitely.' Have you changed? 'Definitely. I'm taking it a little less serious.'"
Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle: "McGrady is again a topic of conversation after going scoreless in the fourth quarter of a 93-82 loss to Utah Saturday night. Never mind that the Jazz ran two and three defenders at him, that they decided that someone other than McGrady was going to beat them. No one else stepped up, McGrady finished with 20 points and the Rockets enter Game 2 tonight in an 0-1 hole. 'There's too much attention paid to what Tracy did out there,' Rick Adelman said. 'They basically took him out of the game. We have to find ways to get him easier opportunities. And others have to make plays. We just missed so many shots.'"
Tracy McGrady makes a PR mistake, telling reporters the Rockets have to win Game 2. What if they don't? Hasn't he told his teammates they're doomed before they even step off the plane in Salt Lake City?