Houston Rockets vs Portland Trail Blazers Preview

By Michael Ma

Nov 5, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0), Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (13) and point guard Jeremy Lin (7) fight for a loose ball at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Before getting to the keys for the Houston Rockets, it’s only appropriate that Space City Scoop gives it’s full condolences to the McHale family, after head coach Kevin McHale’s mother passed away recently. While it was unknown what the matter of McHale’s absence was until late Wednesday, he will now take a leave of absence. Kelvin Sampson will act as head coach in the meantime.

Here are the keys for the Rockets against the Portland Trail Blazers(18-4)

Contain LMA

The Rockets can’t just focus on defending just LaMarcus Aldridge, but the LMA trio of Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, and Aldridge. In his second season, Lillard is putting up all-star numbers, averaging 20.7 points, 5.6 assists, and is shooting 42 percent from behind the 3-point line. Matthews has been red hot of late, averaging 16.2 points, while shooting 53 percent from behind the arc. Aldridge, as always, is averaging his customary double-double numbers of 23.2 points and 10 rebounds.

Execute The Same Formula

Dwight Howard scored 29 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, while James Harden scored 33 points to lead the Rockets to a 116-101 win over the Blazers at Moda Center on Nov. 5. The Rockets dominated the battle in the paint that night, outrebounding the Blazers 47-30, and had a 54-28 advantage in points in the paint.

Blazers center Robin Lopez had trouble defending Howard all night, and look for the Rockets to exploit that matchup in the low post.

Battle of the Benches

Bench play could decide the outcome of the game, as Jeremy Lin will return to the Rocket’s lineup. It’s a tough position to throw him into a game of this magnitude after not being able to practice until this week since he suffered his injury. With that, the Rockets will still rely more on the likes of Aaron Brooks, Francisco Garcia, Omri Casspi, and Donatas Motiejunas as the backup center.

Aside from Mo Williams, Thomas Robinson, and Dorell Wright, who are all capable scorers, the Blazers don’t have another threat who can stretch the defense. The battle of the 2nd units is an area where the Rockets must win to have any chance against the hottest team in the NBA.

Tip: 9:30