The Portland Trail Blazers head to Toyota Center in Houston on Wednesday night to meet the Rockets for the second time this season. Back in November, the Rockets thrashed off the Trail Blazers 132-108 as 7.5-point home favorites with a total of 231.0 points, recording their sixth win in the last eight encounters with Portland. Houston is a firm fave to win Wednesday night, and the Trail Blazers will have to bring their best game if they want to make this game interesting to watch.
Portland is still without Jusuf Nurkic (leg) and Zach Collins (shoulder), and these two guys will be sidelined for at least a month. Rodney Hood (Achilles) is done for the season; Skal Labissiere (knee) is out for four weeks, at least, while Mario Hezonja (back) is doubtful to play against Houston. On the other side, the Rockets should come in full strength.
Houston opened as an 8.5-point favorite with the total at 236.0 points. Keep in mind that the Rockets play back-to-back, so these lines could change if something unexpected happens in Memphis on Tuesday night.
What’s at Stake?
The Trail Blazers are game and a half behind No. 8 seed in the West. They desperately need to get things going. On the other side, the Rockets are sitting at the fourth spot, just half a game behind the second-seeded Nuggets. The battle for home-court advantage will be very exciting, as well as the playoff race, so every game will count.
Portland is coming off a narrow 115-112 home win over the Charlotte Hornets to snap its two-game skid. Houston plays in Memphis on Tuesday, as I’ve already mentioned, and the Rockets routed the Minnesota Timberwolves 139-109 at home this past Saturday.
The Trail Blazers have been awful defensively thus far and will have a mountain to climb against the Rockets’ furious offense. Portland allows a whopping 112.4 points per 100 possessions (24th in the league) on 44.6% shooting from the field (10th) and 36.5% from beyond the arc (22nd). On the other side, the Rockets score 114.4 points per 100 possessions (2nd) on 45.5% shooting from the field (17th) and 35.0% from downtown (20th).
The Rockets take 44.2 attempts from deep per contest which are the most in the NBA. The Trail Blazers struggle to defend a 3-point line, and that will be a huge problem against the Rockets. In their first meeting of the season, the Rockets dropped 17 treys on the Trail Blazers. Also, Houston outscored Portland in the paint (58-46).
The Trail Blazers’ frontcourt is pretty thin without Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins. They will have a tall task to defend the rim, so expect James Harden (37.7 PPG, 7.5 APG) and Russell Westbrook (24.6 PPG, 7.0 APG) to drive the lane all night long. On the other hand, the Rockets’ defense is not an elite one, allowing 109.2 points per 100 possessions (15th), so the Trail Blazers certainly stand a chance. However, they will have to play extremely good defense to keep it close. Portland scores 110.1 points per 100 possessions (13th), but Damian Lillard (26.8 PPG, 7.6 APG) has had a lot of ups and downs so far.
The Trail Blazers’ defense is so poor, and I don’t think they will be able to step up against the Rockets on the road. I don’t feel comfortable with an 8.5-point spread, so consider taking the alternative point spread at slightly lower odds. Also, the Rockets could be a bit tired, playing back-to-back here, so picking the alternative line should be a smart move. Houston is 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS in its last six home meetings with Portland. Interestingly, the Rockets are 0-3 SU and ATS on the second day of their last three back-to-back sets, so I expect them to finally put on a strong performance on the back end.
When it comes to the totals, I suggest you go with the over. The line is sky-high, but these two teams are capable of putting some serious numbers on the scoreboard. Also, I’ve mentioned the Trail Blazers’ defensive woes. Furthermore, both Portland and Houston love to play at a fast pace. The Rockets are second in the league with 103.6 possessions per 48 minutes, while the Trail Blazers are 11th with 101.0 possessions per 48 minutes. The over is 11-7 in the last 18 meetings between these two foes, but the under is 4-1 over their previous five encounters.