Rockets News

Houston Rockets Game Day: Rockets Look to Blaze New Trails

By Tamberlyn Richardson
4 of 5

Apr 30, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Terrence Jones (6) is called for a foul during the second quarter as Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) attempts to drive the ball to the basket in game five of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Key Match-Ups

For my money the Blazers starting-5 unit (with a healthy Lopez) is about as good as they come in the Association. While All-Stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard lead the way for the team it’s truly the intangibles of Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum which separates this team from their competition.

The Blazers offer (as of today) two All-Stars in Aldridge and Lillard who are both capable of taking over a game.

Matthews leads the NBA in 3-point shooting and Lillard has made the seventh most three-pointers, but his efficiency has fallen off dramatically in the past few weeks.

Given Lillard was plagued with carrying much of the load while Lopez was out with the broken hand and Aldridge missed several games due to a upper respiratory infection, it’s understandable if fatigue has caught up to him.

In the past few seasons Batum was the x-factor, but he hasn’t looked right all season. It could be he is just worn out following his play this summer on the French National team in which he took the lead role.

While Batum struggles to get healthy it has been the exceptional play of Matthews specifically on the defensive end that has people sitting up and paying attention.

Robin Lopez return has seen immediate benefits given it returns a rim protector to the line-up giving Aldridge room to operate inside or move outside the paint.

Obviously Harden represents the greatest challenge for Portland especially if he replicates his effort of December 22nd. Earlier this season in Howard’s absence it was Harden and Trevor Ariza who picked up the slack and that is occurring again. This time around Josh Smith has stepped up his game and been a factor in pretty much every game since his ejection in Phoenix.

Blazer Leaders:

  • LaMarcus Aldridge 23.7 points per game
  • LaMarcus Aldridge 10.4 rebounds per game
  • Damian Lillard 6.3 assists per game
  • Robin Lopez 1.6 blocks per game
  • Damian Lillard 1.5 steals per game

Rocket Leaders:

  • James Harden 27.1 points per game
  • Dwight Howard 11 rebounds per game
  • James Harden 6.7 assists per game
  • Terrence Jones 1.7 blocks per game
  • James Harden 2 steals per game

Next: Insert the key and pick a winner?