April 21, 2011, Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum (88, left), center Marcus Camby (23, right), forward Gerald Wallace (3) and forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) exchange high-fives following game three of the first round of the 2011 NBA playoffs at the Rose Garden. Portland defeated Dallas, 97-92. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Will Damian Lillard Outplay Jeremy Lin Again In This Crucial Game? A Houston Rockets-Portland Trail Blazers Preview

Nov.. 16, 2011; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) steals the ball from Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin (7) during the fourth quarter of the game at the Rose Garden. The Blazers won the game in overtime 119-117. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Ah. How terrible it must be for announcer Clyde Drexler to see his two favorite teams battle against each other! They key players of the game are:

Damian Lillard

Jeremy Lin has to be careful and keep in mind that this is the picture that he has been seeing nearly all season against rookie point guard Damian Lillard. Lin has had great difficulty in the past keeping Lillard in front of him. The main problem the Rockets have had against Portland and has had a losing record this season against them is because of this mismatch.

However, remember Jeremy Lin did not shoot well at the beginning of the year. If Lin can stop and outshoot Lillard, (that is also if coach Kevin McHale decides to keep him in the game long enough), Damian’s efforts of beating him to the rim on the offensive end may be for nothing.

Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge

Batum had 17 points 6 steals 9 rebounds in his first game against the Rockets this season and 35 points 5 blocks on their second game November 16, 2012. I’d be a bit intimidated by his Kevin Durant-ish arms, especially when he shoot 3s. Luckily, he’s not Kevin Durant! He can cause big trouble as I don’t think Chandler Parsons can box him out and Greg Smith may end up in foul trouble this game as he fouled out last game.

Aldridge had 27 points 11 rebounds 6 assists in the first game and 29 points 6 rebounds in the second game. However, Parsons, even with food poisoning has been on a role with nearly 30 point+ games. Will he be able to outscore LaMarcus?

The Rockets bench

The Portland Trail Blazers strength is in its starters? Its weakness? Its bench. Outscore Portland with the Houston bench and Houston should take the game. All of Portland’s wins were at the beginning of the season when Houston was a bit raw. I expect the better and deeper Rockets bench to be the factor in defeating the Portland Trail Blazers.

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Tags: Damian Lillard Houston Rockets Jeremy Lin LaMarcus Aldridge Nicolas Batum Portland Trail Blazers

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