|McGrady focusing on "chance of a lifetime" in playoffs|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 24 April 2007 10:20|
HOUSTON (AP) -Don't call Tracy McGrady while the Houston Rockets are in the playoffs.|
Actually, it's fine to call, but don't expect an answer. McGrady said as long as the playoff run is on, his cell phone will be off.
After failing to advance past the first round in five previous career playoff series, the seven-time All-Star believes this is his time and doesn't want anything to get in the way.
``This is the chance of a lifetime,'' he said. ``It's a great opportunity and I'm just trying to take advantage of it. This is the first time I've felt like I had a great supporting cast and I feel we can hopefully advance past the first round.''
The Rockets are halfway there after taking a 2-0 lead in the seven-game series with the Utah Jazz. Game 3 is Thursday in Utah.
McGrady, who is in his second postseason series with the Rockets, advanced to the playoffs once with the Raptors and three times in Orlando.
Not one to shy away from discussing the five winless series, he actually seems to enjoy those conversations, if only to proclaim how he believes it will be different this time.
He acknowledged his first time in the playoffs while in Toronto, he was ``just happy to get there.'' He's candid about his subsequent failures, especially when discussing his chances with the Magic.
``At the time I felt like I didn't have a chance to advance because I had a very young, inexperienced team - a young coaching staff,'' he said. ``And I just didn't think we had the talent to advance, especially playing the teams that we played.''
McGrady said playing without Grant Hill in all three series was difficult for him.
``Not having Grant Hill, a superstar in your lineup, was tough on my shoulders,'' he said.
Things are certainly different now as McGrady and Yao Ming are one of the toughest duos in the league. The Rockets also have a strong set of role players that includes Shawn Battier, Rafer Alston and Chuck Hayes. In Monday's Game 2 win over the Jazz, each of Houston's starters scored in double figures.
``Coming into this season with the additions that we had to our team this year, I felt like if we stayed healthy that we could really do something special,'' McGrady said. ``I felt like if we were focused throughout the season, and just went out and played...this is where we're going to be.''
McGrady had a slow start to the series after scoring just one point in the first half of Game 1 while dealing with nerves. He shook it off in time to score 16 third quarter points to rally his team to the win.
He showed no signs of nervousness Monday when he scored 31 points.
The Rockets are confident, but know the dangers of letting up after jumping out to an early lead in the series. Houston was up 2-0 over Dallas in 2005 before the Mavericks won four of the next five games to advance.
``Going through that, really, being in this situation now is motivation,'' McGrady said. ``We're a lot more focused and we have a much more mature group. I don't think we're going to relax. This team is not going to let us relax, because they're too ... good.''
Though McGrady and Yao have both scored 20 or more points in each of the first two games, Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy is a bit concerned about their shooting percentages. McGrady was 9-of-29 on Monday, Yao 9-of-24.
``I don't think there's any question that he and Yao need to be more effective on offense,'' Van Gundy said. ``There's no doubt that we need to shoot better, but part of their shooting problems are tied in to some other guys not making, so the floor's more crowded for them.''
Houston made 34 of 38 free throws to overcome 36-percent shooting in the Game 2 win.
50% Bonus for New Players
Are You Ready for Hoops?
Get Your Message In Front of
Thousands of Sports Fans Now
Live Odds, Scores, Injuries
And More - 14 Day Free Trial!
Easiest Time to Play is Now!
Nearly 66% Lifetime