Blazers vs Rockets – Picks & Predictions

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets

Game 1

Sunday, 9:30 EST

April 20, 2014

Line: Houston Rockets -5

LaMarcus Aldridge is a 3-time All-Star. Damian Lillard might have a few more All-star appearances by the time his career is over.

Averaging 20.7 points and 5.6 assists during the regular season, Lillard became just the fifth player in league history with 1,900 points and 600 assists in his first 100 career games. Those numbers are great during the regular season, but last year’s Rookie of the Year will be getting a taste of playoff basketball for the first time in his career.

Finishing the season tied for the sixth-most wins in franchise history, resulting in a 21-game improvement from last year’s 33-49 record, the Trail Blazers did most of their damage from downtown, setting a team-record 770 3-pointers. In the four meetings against the Rockets, the Blazers shot 10-for-31, 8-for-27, 8-for-25 and 9-for-25, a combined 32.4 percent, which was well below the 37.4 percent they shot against the rest of the NBA.

More often than not, a made three allowed the Blazers to set up their defense, and forced teams to think twice about not guarding the three-point line. If the Blazers can make their shots from long range, it’ll prevent the Rockets from getting out in transition – a major part of their offense.

During the regular season, the Rockets transition game haunted the Blazers. Averaging 18.5 fast-break points per game, the Rockets offense revolved around attacking the rim. Whether it be by the pick-and-roll between James Harden and Dwight Howard, playing an inside-out game, or shooting from downtown, the Rockets offense is explosive evident by their second ranked offense scoring 107.7 points per game.

Houston’s offense is lethal enough, but game after game, teams continue to give them easy points by putting them on the free throw line. In their three wins versus Portland, the Rockets averaged 27 points on free throws, which is five more than their league-leading average. The Blazers must continue to play solid defense, while keeping the league’s No. 1 team in free throw attempts (31.1 per game), off the stripe. And solid defense begins with containing James Harden, who averaged 30.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists, while shooting 45 percent (15-33) from three against Portland in four games. If the Blazers are unable to defend against Harden, not even the crowd at the Moda Center can will their home team to a victory throughout the series.

Portland finished the season winning five in a row, while the Rockets stumbled down the stretch playing five hundred ball over their last ten games. Look for the Trail Blazers to continue their hot streak in the opening game of the series.

You can take Harden and Howard, but in game one, my money is on Aldridge and Lillard to get the victory.

My pick: Trail Blazers Moneyline

April 20, 2014 by : Posted in Picks and Predictions No Comments
Adam Rosen

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Adam Rosen is a seasoned sports writer with special interests in Pro Football and Basketball. He has been picking sports games against the spread for years, and has posted a 56% win rate over his last 75 predictions.

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