Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets Matchup Preview
The NBA league restart continues tonight as the Portland Trail Blazers (30-38) will take on the Houston Rockets (42-24) at 9:00 pm. Houston is coming off of two huge wins against the Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks and are now only one game behind the Denver Nuggets for the 3rd seed in the Western Conference.
While the Rockets have already clinched a playoff spot, the Trail Blazers are currently on the outside looking in. The Blazers have gone 1-1 thus far in the NBA restart and are 2.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies, who now sit at the West’s 8th seed. Portland needs to be within four games of the 8th seed to force a play-in tournament, and they certainly don’t want to get any further behind than they currently are. The Trail Blazers will have their hands full with the Rockets, who have one of the best offenses in the NBA.
Led by James Harden and Russell Westbrook, the Rockets boast an explosive shooting offense that elects to go small rather than play a traditional big man at the center position. The Blazers use Hassan Whiteside, who fits the exact bill for a typical NBA big man. However, the Blazers’ offense is also centered around their backcourt. With both teams having plenty of offense to offer, this should be an exciting game to watch.
Time: 9:00 PM ET
Arena: HP Field House, Orlando, FL
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Trail Blazers Starting 5
Trail Blazers Analysis
The Trail Blazers come into this game following a four-point loss to the Boston Celtics in a game that came down to the wire. Although both Damian Lillard and center Jusuf Nurkic went for 30 points, the Blazers couldn’t get enough production from some of their role players to win. If Portland wants to have a chance against the Rockets, they will need as much help from their role players as they can get.
When facing an offense as explosive as the Rockets, you need scoring from both your starters and your bench in order to compete. Houston has shooters all across the floor and can score in bunches, as we saw in their 153-149 win over the Dallas Mavericks. It would make sense to say that the Blazers’ key to victory in this game would be to slow down Harden and Westbrook. However, both Lillard and McCollum aren’t great on defense, and I don’t see either of them being able to contain the pair. If Portland wants to defeat the Rockets, they will have to score and do so in bunches.
They will need production from Lillard and McCollum, but they will also need their role players to score. Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza, and all the other role players on Portland will have to contribute significantly to keep up with Mike D’Antoni’s offense.
Rockets Starting 5
Many people were skeptical about whether or not Mike D’Antoni’s new “microball” offense would be useful in the NBA. Early on in the league restart, it is certainly looking like this style of play could work. The Rockets have won the first two games of the league restart thus far, defeating the #1 ranked offensive team in the Dallas Mavericks and the #1 overall seed in the NBA in the Milwaukee Bucks.
Although the Mavericks don’t exactly have a stellar defense, the Bucks do. Houston was able to put up 120 points on one of the best defensive teams in the league, all while starting a 6’5 guy at center. I think that the Rockets’ style of play will prove effective against this Trail Blazers team. The one thing that the Blazers lack is defenders, and I think that the Rockets will be able to exploit Portland’s weaknesses on defense. James Harden and Russell Westbrook should cause problems for CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard, who both aren’t fantastic defenders.
The only issue I see that could happen is a lack of rebounding for the Rockets. The Trail Blazers have both Whiteside and Nurkic, who are quality big men. Houston might have difficulty controlling the boards, but what they give up on defense they generally make up for on offense. I expect the Rockets to come out guns blazing in this game and take it to the Blazers offensively.
Pelicans vs Grizzlies Fantasy Basketball Angle
There is an obvious player to highlight when talking about fantasy basketball for this matchup. If you are lucky enough to have him on your team, you should be starting James Harden tonight. It should go without saying that Harden is a lock to start every week in your fantasy lineup, but tonight’s game is an especially favorable matchup. The Blazers lack defense in their backcourt, whether it be from their starters or bench.
The man is averaging 34.4 points per game and has shown absolutely no signs of slowing down. Harden also averages 7.4 assists per game and has plenty of offensive threats to pass the ball to. When facing the Trail Blazers, who don’t have the best defense, I fully expect Harden to get it offensively and send out plenty of assists to his teammates. This is a dream matchup for fantasy players, and Harden himself puts up dream-like numbers on a day-to-day basis. Considering the matchup and the caliber player that Harden is, starting him in your fantasy lineup should be a no-brainer.
Trail Blazers vs Rockets Betting Odds
Rockets Odds: -200
Trail Blazers Odds: +170
The oddsmakers are favoring the Rockets to win this matchup against the Blazers. After seeing how great this team has played over the past two games, I agree. The Rockets offense has been cruising and putting up plenty of points. The Blazers also do not have a great defense, which spells trouble for them in this game. I would bet on the Rockets to win this game, and I would also bet the over as well. When you have two productive offenses going head to head against one another, it is always safe to go with the over in that situation.
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