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NBA Weekend Betting: Portland vs. Houston Preview

Posted by Stan Jenkins on 3/7/2014 4:09:13 PM

In a matchup that has the potential to play out in the Western Conference playoffs at some point, the Blazers head to Houston looking to right the ship after a rough stretch has caused them to slip in the standings. Meanwhile, a scorching hot Rocket team awaits behind the emergence of Dwight Howard; this team is rounding back into the force that could make Houston a sneaky contender in April.

Portland Trail Blazers @ Houston Rockets

First, let’s start with the case to be made for the Blazers: Despite Howard’s presence on the inside, Houston has had trouble keeping teams off the offensive glass. For a team like Portland that is one of the best in the NBA at getting offensive boards, that spells a problem. Houston’s field goal defense has been much better this season, but it is the multiple looks teams get that has killed them. Secondly despite the fact Portland doesn’t turn teams over all that much, it now gets to face a Rocket team that has turned it over second most in the NBA. The Rockets can be careless with the basketball at times, giving Portland multiple opportunities to get points in transition.

Damian Lillard has been stellar this season, and the Rockets don’t throw much resistance at the guard position. Add in the fact Lamarcus Aldridge has killed the Rockets in the teams’ meetings this year and Portland’s top two weapons present a lot of problems for Houston’s defense. The NBA is the most simplistic of the four sports. Talent usually wins, and in this case, Portland’s top talent matches up favorably with Houston.

Here’s the argument in support of the Rockets: Houston comes into this game having won two of the prior three meetings between the teams and is on fire, winning 11 of its last 13. Dwight Howard had been playing reasonably well to start the season, but he has recently raised his game to another level and now gives Houston a dangerous collection of offensive weapons that makes the Rockets very tough to defend. Portland has really had no answer for Houston’s offense in any of the prior meetings, and the Rockets come into this game as one of the best shooting teams in the NBA. Can Portland find an answer to slow down Houston and keep this game in the mid-90s or low 100s?

Secondly, you sometimes just have to ride with the trends. Houston has been very solid at home all season, and the Southwest is the one division that has given Portland trouble this season. Portland has won five straight to appear as if it has righted the ship, but a closer look shows all the Blazers have done is beat up on non-playoff teams while losing nearly every tough game they’ve had for a few weeks.

Prediction

The Blazers have just not been playing at a higher level relative to what they did before the All-Star break. Houston has definitely trended upward over the past month, and with the Rockets hosting this game, it’s going to be tough for Portland’s weak defense to disrupt their opponent’s offense.

Pick: Houston

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