Game Day Preview: Houston Rocket vs. Portland Trail Blazers
The Houston Rockets will be traveling to Portland Wednesday night to face off against the Portland Trail Blazers in which will be the second leg of a back to back.
The Rockets are coming into this contest fresh off a loss to the Golden State Warriors. Although the scoreboard indicates a blow out, Houston stayed competitive for the majority of the game behind a valiant team defensive effort and a 37 point outing from shooting guard James Harden.
Portland on the other has found a groove riding two game winning streak while winning eight out of their last ten. The improved play can be accredited to Portland’s attention to defense as they have held their last 10 opponents to an average point total of 97.6
This showdown between two ball clubs who possess the ability to explode offensively at any point of the game holds huge playoff indications as both are in a neck-to-neck battle for the final playoff spot.
Venue: Moda Center, Portland, OR
Game Time: 10:30 PM ET, 9:30 PM CT
TV: ESPN, TSN 1, KGWHD, ROOT
Radio:790 AM, Rip City Radio 620, Sirius: 207 (Internet H:904/A:890)
The two ball clubs have met twice this season splitting the season series 1-1
- November 18, 2015 – Houston 108 – Portland 103
- February 6, 2015 – Portland 96 – Houston 79
- Noah Vonleh (Ankle) – Probable
- Terrence Jones (Concussion) – Day to day
Portland Trail Blazers
Keys To Winning
Defensive Intensity: All season long, Houston’s defensive efforts have been abysmal. Whether it’s confusion on the court or simply a lack of caring – teams have capitalized on this error by killing the Rockets for cheap baskets on fast break points and back door cuts. The Rockets did an outstanding job for the most part last night against perhaps the most dangerous offensive show in the league (Warriors) by pressuring up on the ball handlers forcing them to play out of comfort. Houston was noticeably scrappy when the ball entered the post, getting a hand in on every loose ball and poking away at rebounds causing havoc around the basket. The Rockets must sustain this type of effort especially against the Portland back-court duo of Lillard and McCollum – two of the very best when it comes down to creating scoring opportunities off the dribble.
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Move The Ball Offensively: Too often will Houston rely on the offensive talents of James Harden to win ball games. Teams have keened in on this isolation heavy offense by assigning long and athletic wing defenders on James, limiting his ability to produce. Portland’s wing defenders are more than capable of holding their own against the south-paw assassin. Al-Farouq Aminu has had plenty of experience with Harden leading back to last year’s playoff series against the Mavericks in which Aminu did an exceptional job defending James. The Rockets’ offensive rhythm seems to flow naturally when the ball enters the post to Dwight – which needs to happen more.Throwing the ball down low and playing inside-out is an approach Houston needs to center the offense around much more often as this not only opens up shooting windows from the perimeter but also grants them driving lanes towards the basket.
Understand the importance of this game: The idea of Houston missing the playoffs is very well in play here. The three teams that are fighting for the 7th and 8th playoff spot are the Blazers, Rockets and Utah Jazz. Portland and Utah are teams that have seem to find their stride as they have been trending upwards as of late, the same can’t be said about the Rockets. Houston must play with a sense of urgency and realize that every single game counts.
The odds makers have set Portland as 4 point favorites with a total over/under of 214.
Although in situations such as this one, we’d expect a bounce back effort from the Rockets after a tough loss on national television the night before. Sadly, I don’t believe this Houston ball club has it in them to get over the Warrior hang-over nor will they be able to get up for a later west coast game two nights in a row.
Houston – 103
Portland – 110
With the trade deadline around the corner make sure you visit Space City Scoop daily for our trade series. Each day SCS will feature an article on who the Rockets should trade for or what it would take to part ways with the players currently on the roster. Finally we’ll assess the Rockets and each team in the Association in terms of what their needs are, if they should be buyers or sellers and also speculate on who would be the ideal trade target.