This will be one of the more crucial games of the season for both teams. As of now the Rockets are clinging to a one-game lead over the Blazers for the final spot in the West. Portland will look to jump back into the playoff standings while the Rockets will look to grab onto the 7th spot and hope for the Jazz will start to drop a couple of games.
The Portland Trail Blazers have one of the best starting lineups in the league. The problem is that they have probably the worst bench in the league. The key to a Rockets win is for the bench to dominate the game. Guys like Toney Douglas, Marcus Morris and others will need to step up. Carlos Delfino is still day-to-day but even if he can’t go James Anderson has played well in his absence.
One battle that will be fun to watch is Jeremy Lin and Damian Lillard. Lin has been on a hot streak recently and he will need to keep it up if he wants to compete with Lillard who is a lock to win the Rookie of the Year award. Lin has trouble staying with quick point guards. If he starts to struggle look for Toney Douglas to get more minutes as usual and you may seen Patrick Beverley as well.
Another battle that you should keep an eye on is Chandler Parsons and Nicolas Batum. Both players are putting up similar numbers. Parsons needs to play well on both sides of the court to win this battle.
Another key to the Rockets winning or losing is the matchup between Omer Asik and LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge is becoming one of the better post players in the game while Asik is one of the better post defenders. The game could come down to who has the better game. I’m not looking for Asik to score. I’m looking for him to rebound and play defense.
I would look for another big night from James Harden. No disrespect to Wesley Matthews or Batum, but if Harden can drop 32 points on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade than he can do it on anybody.
Like I said earlier, the Blazers have a great starting lineup, but their bench is just bad. I think this will be the biggest difference in the game and it will lead to a Rockets win.